Be An Enthusiast!

Jann FreedLiving Leave a Comment

I write about leading, living, and sage-ing (positive aging) so I feel it is important to reflect on some current events.

Since I have a son living in New York City, I sent him a text a few days after Kate Spade died saying it was such a sad situation.  His response was, “Yes, but I am more upset and sad about the loss of Anthony Bourdain.”

Honestly, I knew of Kate Spade bags, but I never had one and that was all I knew of her.  I thought the brand was only a handbag line.  Then I started doing research and discovered the empire she created.  How could someone who appeared to be so successful be so sad and in so much pain?

But with Anthony Bourdain, I had NEVER HEARD OF HIM.  Since I don’t watch much television, I just did not even know of him.  Then I started doing more research and discovered, I, too, would have loved his shows and commentary.  I enjoy cooking, learning about various industries, and traveling to exotic places to explore the people and food sounds intriguing. Again, not knowing anything about Bourdain except what I have recently read, how could someone who appeared to be on top of the world be so sad and in so much pain?

Now we learn how the statistics on suicide are going in the wrong direction–increasing. In fact, suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. right now.  All of the news surrounding these high profile suicides reminded me of one of my college students about 20 years ago.  In fact, I think of him every Super Bowl Sunday.  It was Super Bowl Sunday and he went to Walmart, bought a gun, and shot himself in one of the college’s parking lots.  The campus was devastated.  Several college members went to the funeral in a small Iowa town where it is hard to attract quality pastors.  But I have never forgotten what this pastor shared with us and I have thought about it often when I learn of someone taking his/her own life.

I remember the main message as this:

Suicide is not a rational act.  It is an irrational act out of pain and suffering.  And all of you are wondering how “Bob” could do this to his family, friends, and all who cared about him.  Why did he not reach out to you or someone?  But you are asking these questions from a rational mind-set and “Bob” was not rational when he acted.

So in all of the research I conducted on Anthony Bourdain, I came across an article on NPR that struck me as significant especially since I have never heard of him.  Anthony Bourdain’s Twitter profile just says, “Enthusiast.”

“He will be remembered for his curiosity — and curiosity is hopeful. To be an enthusiast is to believe that you will duck around the next corner and find a place where you’ve never had anything like the bowl of noodles they’re going to make for you. To be an explorer, always, without hesitation, is the opposite of cynicism. It’s the opposite of surrender to all the blood and innards and, to quote one of his book titles, the nasty bits. To wander is to believe in the expansive worth of the world you live in and to have faith that you have not run out of people to meet or places to visit.”

While I have had people in my past comment on my enthusiasm, I would rather be called an “enthusiast.”  Becoming a Sage involves being curious about life and hopeful.  It includes exploring the next phase of life learning new things and meeting new people because some of the things we used to do we can’t do anymore or we have lost interest.  We need to increase our circle of friends because some will die, others may move away, or as we leave our careers some friends disappear.  A Sage wanders and wonders and an enthusiast does too.

I strongly believe in seeking out role models–people who are living lives that you admire.  For the past decade, I have been watching and meeting Sages.  Now I am going to consider these people to be enthusiasts and that resonates with me as much as Sage-ing.

May you have “faith that you have not run out of people to meet or places to visit.”

Are you enthusiast?  

Does the term apply to you?

How positive and hopeful is your mindset and philosophy on life?