Hopefully You Leave Something Good Behind

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”  – Anthony Bourdain

I heard the news this morning that Anthony Bourdain killed himself and like most others, was completely shocked.  It’s hard to imagine that someone who “has it all” can battle such demons and lose, but more and more it is the norm.  And while there is much to be said about depression and mental illness, this is not that blog post.

I’ve always loved to travel but it really wasn’t until the last 5-7 years that I realized what type of traveler I was, or really, that not all people traveled the same way. A lot of things were going on in my life around that time, namely sadly divorcing the man I had spent the last 20 years with. Vacations with him had all been tropical in nature, at high-end resorts, never straying far from the beach or the all-inclusive food buffets.  And not that those vacations aren’t wonderful.  But suddenly alone, I found myself traveling with different friends, and in those travels I realized that I loved driving and seeing where a road goes.  Stopping every 10 miles to take yet another pictures.  Talking to the owners of small pubs and learning what their days were like. Learning to milk a cow on a farm in Ireland.  After I realized that I could do whatever I wanted, wherever I wanted in the world, I started watching A LOT of No Reservations and then Parts Unknown.  I loved watching someone travel like I wanted to travel, learning about the people and their lives.  I was inspired by Anthony Bourdain to try things, to explore, to understand that at our core, humans all want to be loved and understood…and to eat really good food.   He didn’t have to love everything, but he always respected the person and sought to understand where they were coming from.  The world needs way more of that right now.

I learned from him that the perfect trip was never perfect, that over-planning is the fastest way to destroy your chance of experiencing the best a place has to offer. It seems basic, but sharing a meal is one of the best things you can do to learn about someone and cooking a meal for someone is one of the best ways to show someone you care.

It hurts my heart to think of how much pain he must have been in, especially when he inspired so many people and spread so much joy.  It’s truly tragic.  But even in this he is going to make his mark. I am leaving on my next trip in two days and no doubt will walk down an uncrowded street, talk to strangers and eat delicious food and take my time absorbing a place, not just instagramming it.   Because that is what Anthony showed me I could do, awakened that it is what I love to do. And for that I will be forever grateful.

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”  Anthony Bourdain