…you’re standing alone in the desert, and you see the most incredible sunset you’ve ever seen and your first instinct is to turn to your left or right and say, “Wow, do you see that?” Okay, there’s no one there, what do you do? Next, where’s the camera? Look through the viewfinder and you realize, you know, what you see through that little box is not what you’re experiencing. There comes this terrible moment when you realize well, this is for me. There is no sharing this.
On today’s Other People’s Words, Anthony Bourdain, formerly the head chef of Les Halles in New York, now a foie gras advocate and food-and-travel show host. This is what he had to say about himself and the world as he left Beruit in the summer of 2006, as the war with the Israelis was in full swing.
In the few years since I’ve started to travel this world, I’ve found myself changing. The cramped cynical worldview of a man who’d only seen life through the narrow prism of the restaurant kitchen had altered. I’d been so many places, I’d met so many people from wildly divergent backgrounds, countries, and cultures.
Everywhere I’d been, I’d been, as in Beruit, treated so well. I’d been the recipient of so many random acts of kindness from strangers and I’d begun to think that no matter where I went or who I sat down with, that food and a few drinks seemed always to bring people together. That this planet was filled with basically good and decent people doing the best they could, if frequently under difficult circumstances. That the human animal was perhaps a better and nicer species than I had once thought.
I’d begun to believe that the dinner table was the great leveler, where people from opposite sides of the world could always sit down and talk and eat and drink and if not solve all the worlds problems, at least find, for a time, common ground.
Now, I’m not so sure. Maybe the world’s not like that at all. Maybe in the real world–the one without cameras and happy food and travel shows–everybody, the good and the bad together, are all crushed under some terrible wheel.
I hope, I really hope, that I’m wrong about that.