In the past week, the world has lost two Iconoclasts: Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.
This we all know. In this article I am not going to re-post copies of the numerous articles cropping up; repost the posts written by writers who brushed against them in the past; quote the pages of quotes; or try to ride the fame of dead people to make myself seem connected to the world of fashion (Spades) and/or travel and cooking (Bourdain). What I do want to pose is this simple question: “Why do we learn more about someone when they die (suicide in these cases) than when they are living?” Why do we wait until they take their own lives to pour out our hearts and souls, excavate all the histories and stories, and restate the pithy quotes? What is it about finality that conjures up remembrance? Are we, as a society, incapable of lauding the laudable while they are alive? Do we need death to unlock our love and appreciation for their accomplishments?
My simple question: If we did not wait until they chose to end their lives to celebrate their lives and contributions, would they still be alive?
As my friend Charlie Quimby rightly says: “I don’t think we learn more if we are paying attention. We learn something new that was hidden from us. Not unlearnable, but hidden. That is a characteristic of depression.”