The Wages of Pain and the Pit of Despair

Do not spoil yourself by sparing not the rod but the right to answer the most important question. Do not answer this question with a question, because the rhetorical is as repellent to God as it is to man; because you need not believe in God to know the need to be your brother’s keeper—and your sister’s soldier—when we are all brothers and sisters in a story as old as the Scriptures and as clear as the conscience of any decent human being; because, to quote Benjamin Franklin without conflating the literalness of his words with the literal context of current events, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

We must care for the despondent, even if—especially if—their silence does not quiet their cries for help. We must care as much for the woman who smiles or the man who never fails to make us smile, because the appearance of happiness does not prove a person is happy.

The suicide of Anthony Bourdain proves that point.

That those three words precede his name, that the prologue to his name is now the epilogue to his life, that he would commit an act so inapposite to the memory of his name is a loss to the nameless many who met him throughout the world.

He was as worldly in his tastes as he was in his travels. He was a litterateur in and outside the kitchen by way of Vassar College and via the byways of New York City’s best restaurants.

He was also, by his own admission, a recovering heroin addict and an alcoholic.

I knew his pain, or I think I know the pain he may have felt, because I feel it, too. I did the same drugs. I fought many of the same battles.

I no more won mine than Anthony Bourdain lost his. Rather, we lost a great talent and a remarkable man.

Remember his gifts and read his books. Respect his name, so he may—finally—rest in peace.

Photo credit: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

About Ashley Hamilton

Ashley Hamilton is an artist and father, who lives in Malibu and seeks to express the truth through his work.

Photo: Anthony Bourdain attends the 2018 Women In The World Summit at Lincoln Center on April 12, 2018 in New York City. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)

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