Read past the title, and I mean really read. I don't want to see a stupid rant on social media simply because someone read the title and made an assumption; clearly, stupid and ignorance are two different concepts, but I digress.
Anthony Bourdain was a clear reflection of the words he used to describe China—too big, too bold, and given his strong cultural background, too diverse and too deep. In many ways, he dug himself a deep hole he could not dig himself out of—pun intended. He was, and still is, an inspiration because he embraced his ignorance and was very outspoken about it; it is in no way meant as an insult, but as a brutal and friendly reminder that no matter what culture, subculture, new or familiar environment, or lifestyle experienced, it is best to welcome one's own ignorance in hopes of gaining a new perspective or new level of acceptance. Like the old saying goes, if you cannot love yourself, how can you love others? And if you cannot accept yourself as you are - shortcomings, strengths and all—how can you accept others as they are?
Through his own admission, Anthony mentioned that he lived a black-and-white, dichotomized existence until he traveled; through his travels in No Reservations and Parts Unknown, he added color and culture to our HD TVs, iPads, and other forms of technology by bridging the gaps of different classes of cultures; one moment he was sitting in a plastic chair, sharing a table with a stray cat while eating blow fish on the streets of Brazil, and the next moment he's slurping champagne from oysters on a rooftop overlooking China. One moment, Anthony was eating at a famous chef's restaurant in Lyons, France, and the next moment he was substituting for a high school English class in the Bronx. Some cultures he explored involved eating White Castle burgers in their childhood and others involved eating in a farmer's kitchen from their homeland. The meals that he shared with people wasn't just about the culinary techniques or ingredients; they represented traditions, history, and lifestyles, and were used as conversation pieces to understand culture completely.
A part of me refuses to accept the fact that he's dead, and I think this is the angriest I have ever been about a death. There is so much irony wrapped up, especially in the Parts Unknown series, because he's helped reveal what was unknown not just amongst food and travels, but politics and morals; he was a chef never asked to be a journalist, but he used his journalism as a gift to share with others. In one episode, Anthony stated, "It doesn't happen until you tweet it as they say"… I feel like this may have been his death sentence (I'll let you, dear reader, connect the dots on that; and if you don't agree, I simply ask that we agree to disagree peacefully.)
Let's take a life lesson from Anthony and explore other universes, and by that I don't mean the multiple tabs we have open in a browser in the intricate universe of the Internet. I have yet to truly feel alive in this world. I now understand that in order to have any kind of sense of adventure or exploration, I have to acknowledge and approve of my deep-rooted ignorance and use it as motivation for commitment to explore other cultures, near and far. That realization is a total oxymoron—humbling and strengthening at the same time… or is it? Perhaps they complement each other. As a celebration for Anthony's life and mine, I am challenging myself to binge on ignorance, and I hope others will join me. Anthony's life inspired me to explore the world someday, but his death motivated me to commit to living instead of simply existing now.
The quote that I relate to most from Anthony is this, "I understand there's a guy inside me who wants to lay in bed, smoke weed all day, and watch cartoons and old movies. My whole life is a series of stratagems to avoid, and outwit, that guy." I want to outwit myself and use my ignorance as the fuel for enlightenment. I hope not just make Anthony proud, but make myself proud and not feel like my life is foolishly wasted.