A Scratch On The Lens – A Meager Tribute to Bourdain

The least mortal of us shook loose that chain.

I was never much of a cook. I know I wouldn’t last a day on the line. I never met the man and was kind of miffed that he never did a full episode on Denver. With all the news in the world today, this one still really fuckin hurts.

It hurts because everyone had a love for him. It hurts because he presented the entire world in a way that everyone could understand. From him, an entire generation of curious travelers was born (myself among them) and the way we look at far-off places has changed entirely.

His voice will always be unforgettable. The narrative voice fleshing through juxtaposed phrases waxing and waning through nothing terribly important. More so, he offered up a lens. Through his books or on TV, he presented the world through a lens that could change the mind of anyone who had a moment to spare.

That’s the lesson I’ll take away from. The lazy among us will say “story is the most vital thing ever.” I’d argue that it is the lens. The unique lens of the individual. The most vital thing we can do as writers, as creators, as the most human of fucking beings, is to create a lens to let others see the world as we see it. If reality is nothing more than perception, then here is a chance to change how we perceive things and therein change our own reality.

It is one thing to debate, to argue, to get red in the face about the way things ought to be. It is quite another to view the picture through the lens of another. Walk a mile in their shoes, eat at their table, to know their pain. Reduce all of the world’s problems to their core essence, and it is one person applying their own experience to the challenges of their neighbor.

Every lens is different. Some are rosy, others dark, others carry a deep focus and others still are wide and the one beyond that considers things on a macro level. Some are well kept and clear, others carry the haze of age and the scratches of experience. Every one of them filters the light of experience uniquely. Lenses can be wiped clean to provide a little clarity (and therein sacrificing the unique greasy look), but a scratch or a mar cannot be repaired.

The subtext of today (this week? month?) is the impact of depression and suicide. The pedestrian among us, we will never know the story. But what could it have been in the world that wasn’t softened, humanized, made relatable by Bourdain’s lens that even he couldn’t bear to be a part of it anymore?

David Pennington
David Pennington

Writing would be great if it weren't the only thing I knew how to do. I publish as much as I can, you'll just have to wait for the rest.  

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