“What Makes You Happy?”
Thoughts on the tragic suicide of Anthony Bourdain
By Greg Laurie
Today, as we sip our morning coffee, we are hit with the news of the tragic passing of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain, who took his own life by hanging. A sudden wave of shock has filled America and the rest of the world that Anthony has so famously traveled. This news comes just days after famed fashion designer Kate Spade’s death, which occurred in the same way.
Bourdain’s death follows these prior suicides of other notable people in recent months, including: Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington and last Tuesday, Kate Spade, all by hanging.
These suicides are all in pattern with a national trend of increased suicides in America.
According to CNN, “The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a survey Thursday showing suicide rates increased by 25% across the United States over nearly two decades ending in 2016. Twenty-five states experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30%, the government report finds.”
This is alarming.
Anthony Bourdain was such a unique individual. He was an extremely successful chef and colorful storyteller. He had the job so many of us dream about—traveling around the globe, trying the most usual cuisines and engaging in conversations with people from every walk of life, all for his very successful TV program, “Parts Unknown”.
Bourdain was quoted as saying, “We ask very simple questions: What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook? And everywhere in the world we go and ask these very simple questions,” he said, “we tend to get some really astonishing answers.”
Unfortunately, it appears Anthony Bourdain himself did not find personal happiness, despite that fact that he won two Emmys and many other distinguished awards.
You can’t help but wonder, how in the world could someone who has experienced every wonder of the world, still want to take their own life? Doesn’t traveling the globe open up a treasure trove of insight and understanding? Perhaps, but it also could reveal that there is nothing there once you get “there.” Here’s the thing, from the moment we are born, we all have been on a quest. For many, it starts off as childhood dreams that in many cases, turn out to be adult nightmares. It surprises us that the rich and famous live lives that have the potential to be just as miserable as the rest of the world, and sometimes, theirs are even worse. How could that be? I think it’s because of their unique perspective—they have experienced all the riches and wonders of the world, and have seen the sheer emptiness of it all. Regardless of how full your wallet or passport is, your heart can be empty, lonely and completely broken.
Consider a statement by Jack Higgins, who is one of the most successful authors alive today. His thriller novels having sold more than 250 million copies, in 60 languages.
When asked by a magazine interviewer what he knew now that he wished he had known earlier in life, the accomplished author responded: “I wish I had known when you get to the top, there is nothing there.”
I can’t help but wonder if that’s what Anthony Bourdain discovered. He was once quoted as saying, “Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” Apparently, Bourdain’s ride was not as enjoyable as he had hoped. There can be a certain pleasure in just chasing after whatever you desire. The Bible speaks of “Enjoying the pleasures of sin for a Moment”. There is that Initial high that can come from that first sexual experience, or the excitement from drugs or booze. But of course, we all know there are those nasty repercussions that follow. Eventually, you have to face the consequences. Not only in this life, but in the life to come as well. After the initial rush and excitement, a numb deadness kicks in. The Bible says, “She that Lives for Pleasure is dead while she lives” (I Tim.5:6) If you’re looking to live for pleasure, you will find it’s one of the most unpleasable things you can ever do.
It’s been said that the “Best cure for Hedonism is an attempt to practice it.”
Bourdain asked people about what made them happy. That’s something we all want in life, because we are ‘pre-wired’ that way. Here’s the thing, though—that happiness will never be found in any accomplishment, degree, bank account, relationship status, or job title. You can only find true, lasting happiness and joy in a relationship with God.
C.S. Lewis said, “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about faith. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
According to the Scriptures, happiness is never something that should be sought directly—It is always something that results from seeking something else. Apparently, Anthony Bourdain did not believe this. He searched the world high and low, and still found nothing that could truly satisfy him.
He is quoted as saying, “I was raised without religion…I don’t believe in any higher power. I am hostile to any kind of devotion. Certainty is my enemy.”
I too was raised without religion. My mother was married and divorced seven times, and on top of that, she was a raging alcoholic. She would drink every night until she passed out. I had to grow up fast, and in some ways, I had to be a parent to my parent. That strange upbringing me sent me on a search. I was asking the questions, “what is the meaning of life? Why am I so empty? What happens after I die?”
I found the answers to those questions in an encounter with Jesus Christ.
I didn’t find it in religion, I found it in a relationship with Jesus. I wish I could have shared that over a meal with Anthony Bourdain. I would love to share of the goodness I’ve tasted and seen in my relationship with Jesus, in hopes that He too could have experienced true, abundant life.
I will be sharing the hope of Jesus with a lot of people this Sunday at AT&T stadium in an event called Harvest America, and I hope you can join me.
Used by permission from The Daily Caller.