Anthony Bourdain died trying to be normal.
I love him as a chef and tv host. His show “Parts Unknown” helped me travel to countries I can never visit. Not all “parts” of Tony are worth liking. He has a dark side. Recently, I watched a documentary of his final days.
One thing stood out: he tried so hard to be normal.
He got married several times, looking for normal. He even had a daughter to try and be a dad. Watching Tony in his backyard attempting to cook a BBQ and be a sitcom tv dad made my stomach twist. Tony just couldn’t do it. He couldn’t be normal no matter how hard he tried.
It became apparent from his last romantic relationship that Tony wanted a life partner so he could feel normal. But Tony is anything but normal. He spent his early years working in odd restaurants and doing harsh drugs. Then he wrote a strange book that saw unusual success and made him famous. The fame led to a tv show. The tv show allowed him to be like his childhood cartoon hero Tintin and travel the world.
By exploring the world, Tony discovered an unknown part of himself. The quest to find what makes different societies thrive steered his entire life. I watched him uncover the uncomfortable truths of Libya and their dictator leader Gaddafi. Tony bizarrely found inspiration amongst all the bloodshed.
His tv stories seemed to inspire the audience to believe in country comebacks. They focused heavily on the culture of people that transcended the CNN headlines of his tv show employer.
When Tony’s life partner left him for another man, the quest for normal ended, and Tony took his life.
Like Tony, my whole life I’ve tried to be normal and failed spectacularly. A random quote from Isaiah McCall led to the title of this story. Then this quote below helped me understand the lie of normalcy.
The older I get, the more I realize it’s okay to live a life others don’t understand — Aaron Will
What is normal anyway?
Who defines normal? So many people online want to tell us how to think. They try to tell us what is normal and what isn’t. They try to shape our thoughts in the comments section, hoping we’ll fall into line with their version of normal.
Screw being normal, it doesn’t exist. The solution is to be yourself.
Normal is how you become a slave. When you fall for other people’s view of the world you give up on your own. That’s the real tragedy. What you believe is freaking fantastic. It has been shaped by your own experience, not some puppet on the end of a stick controlled by a government. The description of normal has been debated for thousands of years and nobody is yet to agree.
Defining normal is the definition of insanity.
So you’re weird. Hooray!
I’m the weirdest dude you’ve ever met. My life is anything but cookie-cutter. I am obsessed with time. I eat a whole-food plant-based diet, and can’t stand to watch an animal die so it can be my meal.
I think of every animal as a puppy dog — and those who know me well, know that I loooove dogs. But I also can’t own a dog because I can’t stand to have them as my prisoner in an apartment with no backyard. And 60-minute trips to an enclosed park feels like torture to my dog-loving brain, too.
My day isn’t normal either. I spend a lot of time reading about finance and other weird topics most people couldn’t give a damn about. I work in a home office with zero artwork. In fact, my entire house has not one thing attached to the wall. Because I can’t own a dog I have indoor plants all around me. They don’t smile back — yet — but their green colors do produce some kind of strange happiness inside my mushy brain.
Maybe you can relate. There are parts of your life that are probably whacko Jacko too, yeah?
Weird should be the goal in life.
If you’re weird then you should celebrate with a party, and get U2 to sing the celebratory song. When you identify as weird, you unconsciously give up the lame dream of being normal. Weird is normal — that’s the paradox of life.
Know you’re weird, embrace it, and you can finally live a life without regrets. You can be a carefree badass who gets spat on in the street, keeps walking, and licks the gooey saliva up and calls it lunch.
There simply isn’t time to care about every little thing
I’m 35 already. God damn time flew, and I haven’t even had any fun yet. That’s why I quit my pain-in-the-ass job. That’s why I’m getting married. I’ve wasted so much time trying to get a good job, please the parents with a house and white picket fence, get an education, and keep the haters happy.
Screw it. If 35 years can go this fast, then the next 35 can go even faster. According to research, as we age and follow routines, our perception of time speeds up. So if you think there is time to be normal, think again. Normal wastes a large chunk of your life and it can never be achieved.
Worship the time you have. Spend time on being weird because that means you’re being yourself. Be kind to those who disagree with your weirdness.
Nobody can understand your life
Most people don’t get my life. They wonder why I don’t put on a political t-shirt and point out every problem in the world. They wonder how I make money online and not feel bad.
The thing is, nobody else lives in your head. There isn’t a transcript you can extract from your brain and email to people who don’t understand your life. You can’t go “here, this is all of my life experiences that will help you understand me.”
Perception comes from living the experience, anyway. Even if someone could get a read-out of your brain, your life still wouldn’t make sense because they didn’t physically use your eyes, ears, tongue, and mind to navigate each experience. You did that. The information your senses gave you formed your understanding of the world. Now you’re doing the best you can to understand all the noise before you die.
To understand a person is impossible.
The solution is to be compassionate towards other people, to make up for what you can never understand about them, because you don’t have the ignition keys to their brain.
One life has been issued to you. Don’t waste it begging for understanding. Screw being normal. The consequences are far too great as we learned from the death of Anthony Bourdain.
To seek normalcy is a path to insanity.
Instead, be yourself and embrace all the weird quirks you’ve created. Oscar Wilde’s advice is to “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” That’s the best way to exterminate normalcy.