25 May My Dream Is To Be the Next Anthony Bourdain
I LIVE for the dawn. For years, dawn has been the time of day where I’ve felt free of inhibition. The world sleeps, yet the light in the sky turns on to inspire the imagination, changing from a washed out blue into a soft, brightening purple.
It’s 4:45 am. I haven’t gotten up this early in a long time, but I have a lot on my mind.
From the stillness emanates a sort of magic, for normality has yet to swell from the horizon; that magic’s looking for a place to go before it’s subdued by the trivialities of day.
This is the time of my life when I’m inspired by dawn.
The world is changing. We feel this; we know this.
We exist at the dawn of a new era, one inspired by the magic of potential.
I believe our modern world is coming to embrace that success means more than the size of our bank account. There’s nothing wrong with striving for traditional success, not by any means, if that’s what you want.
What’s changing is our perception of the road to get there. I won’t sacrifice my life doing work I hate to one day be “successful.” We have one life, and it’s not to be wasted in inaction or regret.
Success to me is waking up inspired, dare I say happy, with whatever I have materialistically, because there’s something deeper that’s being fulfilled.
I strive for is a life where I can look back when it’s all said and done and confidently say: I gave it everything. I lived the life my spirit longed to live.
So here’s to trying. Here’s to audacious dreams, because if not now, then when?
I strive to be the next Anthony Bourdain.
Anthony Bourdain was my biggest influence growing up. He was a chef; he was a writer who wrote both fiction and non-fiction. We know Anthony Bourdain most distinctly for his tales of travel and adventure, and of course, food.
I’d get home from high school and throw on his show Parts Unknown, as I was a kid who wanted to see the world. Nothing’s changed. What I loved was how he portrayed the human element of travel — the nitty gritty, the color.
Bourdain illuminated the beating heart of people and place. Doing the same at this point in my life makes me happier than anything else.
What does it mean to be the next Bourdain? To have a show? A global following? An impact? Perhaps. But what it means more than anything is to be a light in an often dark world.
Bourdain committed suicide in 2018. Who knows what isolation gripped his soul, but he left a daughter, a courageous one, and that’s the most gut-wrenching thing of all. He had love right there, yet he couldn’t reach out and grasp it.
Still, there’s no denying that Bourdain brought joy, a respite, an adventure into many people’s lives.
I don’t know the real Bourdain, the man behind the shows and words, and perhaps that’s the double-edged sword of this endeavor. Yet I know his impact, for I was a kid forever shaped by it.
It can be said that pain is the only real thing in this world. To alleviate the pain of others in whatever capacity is unequivocally a good thing. A meaningful thing. God only knows he was trying; perhaps as he did, he couldn’t draw it from himself.
No, I don’t want to do it exactly like Bourdain. Of course not. I’m not him, and I have my story just as he had his. But my goal is to one day get to that place where I can make a significant impact, and like him, fill the bleakness with a little more beauty.
My dream is to bridge the hearts of cultures and people in what we’re so often told is a fucked up world.
So much of what we see and hear is based on fear — that of the other, the unknown. I can’t accept that. This world is far from perfect, but it’s the only one we have.
We must believe that we can make it better. What a gift, a privilege, to impart that it’s full of more love than hate.
More light than darkness.
Beauty in the places we’re afraid to go.
These beliefs have formed from the everyday experiences of travel, and it’s those everyday experiences, those seemingly mundane stories, which I long to share.
This isn’t exactly a career where you send in your resume and either get the job or you don’t.
There’s no roadmap, yet my heart’s been tugged in this direction since I was a high-schooler. It’s made more and more sense the further I’ve roamed and have discovered what I love and what I don’t.
I’ve become quite okay with the fact that I’ll have to work jobs while pursuing this path, as long as the jobs provide an opportunity to learn and expand my horizons.
That’s what has brought me to Japan to teach English, and I’m so grateful for where I am.
One thing’s for certain: Even if you don’t know which steps to take, don’t settle into a career if you know it’s not for you.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying, trying, and trying different jobs while you seek what lights you up inside. In fact, it’s commendable.
I originally wrote this a couple of weeks ago in Nagasaki, sitting outside of my hostel amid pouring rain. I don’t think I’d be leaning into this idea without the encouragement from my brotha in arms, Greg, who visited me in Japan for two weeks.
I’ve said for years that my ideal career is to be a travel writer, a creator.
But Greg asked: What would it mean to leave it all on the field?
“Going ‘conservative’ in your 20s is something you really, really should debate, especially if you aren’t in debt,” writes esteemed author, speaker and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk.
“When you’re this young, the number one thing you should focus on is executing on the most high-risk behaviors of your life. This is exactly when you should go live in Bali for a year. This is exactly when you should try and become Beyonce. This is exactly when you go on the offense.”
Follow your inclinations as I’ll follow my own, and despite if we ever reach our audacious dreams, we’ll look back on a life passionately, courageously, and lovingly lived. That’s all that really matters.
I’m so damn lucky to have people who encourage the life I’m leading; I’m here to be that friend for you.
The fact is, I simply can’t not try.
I felt possessed as I sat at the hostel cafe that morning in Nagasaki. I felt each inspiring word as I do now pour through me, seemingly of their own volition.
I consider it one of my peculiar abilities to sit at a small table in front of a cafe and watch the rain fall for hours, writing and observing. I can do the same at a park, a crosswalk, any cafe around the world, really.
In fact, I’d consider watching the world go by to be my favorite entertainment, and that tells me something.
I love to study culture, the way people move, what they wear, how they conduct themselves, their language, both said and unsaid. I love to understand the way a city sprawls or what makes a home a home.
I want to add love to this world; that’s it. Now the question becomes, how do I get to where I hope to go? This has been my biggest realization:
It doesn’t matter.
It isn’t the ideal five-year plan, the content creation schedule or the increasing follower count that will make the big difference.
What’s more important is welcoming and embracing our deepest aspiration. It becomes our North Star. This doesn’t mean sit back and do nothing.
“Make high risk moves around the thing that will make you the happiest,” writes Vaynerchuk.
We stumble toward our dreams by doing what feels meaningful, and bold, and genuine, while opening ourselves up to an adventure we can’t possibly predict.
I’d go so far as saying that the content I create won’t get me any further down this road than simply being present during my time in Japan, savoring this experience, letting go of the pressure, and living.
The love and passion in my heart won’t fade. Yet I’m here. I’ve made my move. There’s so much beauty right here in front of me, and I won’t let this experience simply pass me by.
It’s difficult to put into words what living in Japan has done for me so far. With each passing day, I feel my affection for this country growing deeper.
Living here has opened up my soul. Through the highs and lows, it’s asked me to dig deep and seek meaning in it all.
It’s made every day an adventure — what my spirit has for so long craved.
It’s taught me about myself, about love, about people. I don’t know exactly how this path will play out. I never have. But I have my North Star and I’m already wandering beneath its glow.
We left Nagasaki, and on the train I felt refreshed by the endlessly passing greenery, brightened by the first touch of the sun in days. Hours later, my mind began racing as we passed the city of Kobe.
The sun reached for the hills, its rays coursing through the pale sky.
The kid I was sat there beside me.
He couldn’t believe his eyes, for this too, was once just a far-fetched dream.