Travel is a regenerative escape. Suicide is not.

This outpouring of social grief over the suicides of two celebrities last week, has left me thinking… Is this social outcry, the same white noise that contributed to Kate Spade (Fashion Designer, 55) and Anthony Bourdain (Traveller/Writer/Chef, 61) taking their own lives?

The millions of people turning to social media to express sadness, and feelings of pain and loss, for people that they did not have meaningful two-way relationships with is interesting. How is it that thru media alone, can one person (celebrity) can have an impact which causes emotional, and even physical pain, to strangers? Is this genuine?

What if, in life, that celebrity felt the enormous internal pain inflicted by of a whole world of people who thought they knew him? Millions of “people” aka social accounts that wanted his attention, or a piece of his fame? What if the noise of social celebrity was absolutely deafening? What if you couldn’t get that noise out of your head? What if you felt like every hour of every day people wanted a piece of you? How would you even survive?

Is this what musician and celebrity suicides have in common?

Rather that a state of depressiveness, is suicide the ultimate “flight” choice? Meaning that when your most basic instincts are “fight” or “flight” is this what it comes down to? To fight would be to regain your privacy and find your one true inner voice. But what if that seems impossible? What if though you try, you can NEVER quiet the madness? Is this when select musicians and celebrities choose “flight?”

I can only speak to my own experience, but I have definitely been overwhelmed with demands. (I think most of us can relate.) Have you ever wanted to run away or quit work because it felt too chaotic or absolutely overwhelming? I definitely have. So that’s when I would travel. On the hard days, I would desperately cling to the anticipation of my next vacation. Escaping or getting away from my regular life was always the reprieve I wanted and needed. The chance to go exploring and mix among strangers was wonderful. I love the freeing feeling of anonymity.

Travel was my escape from reality when I owned a busy restaurant. At work I would typically be in the kitchen filling orders on a busy busy night (multitasking to finish multiple dishes simultaneously) and at the same time staff were asking questions and guests were wanting to visit/socialize have my ear. It was always chaos. At times I wanted to race out the backdoor and hide from all people and responsibilities. I would fight through it and divide my attention every way possible, but it was an awful feeling, like you’re never enough. There’s never enough time of “you” to go around. That’s just me, and on such a small scale, but I absolutely believe teachers and nurses and politicians and business owners also feel similar internal strife. And if this is our every-day lives with 30 people nagging at us for attention, imagine it on a celebrity scale. No thanks. I wouldn’t last.

So what if, the same social madness that reaches out in grief, is the same social madness that caused the tragedy? Is the only way to rest in peace, to stop the noise?

In loving memory

My mother died two weeks ago. So, a lot of things have changed. First off, I’m grounded. No trips, no vacations, nothing for the foreseeable future. So, that’s different for me. I’m needed at home. There’s things only I can take care of.

Secondly, I didn’t know that she had aspirations of being a travel counsellor. We found a resume in her things. It’s from 20 years ago, but she was hoping to make a move within the organization she worked for and take on a role of travel sales.

In this resume she declares a love for travel and a thirst to see more of the world. I didn’t know this. Actually, it comes as quite a shock. I say this because she openly challenged me when I talked about planning trips. She didn’t want me “jetting off.” “Going to strange places.” “Stay closer to home” she’d say.

But maybe that “don’t go” attitude only applied to ME. Maybe her love for me simply outweighed the see-the-world zest for life and ambition she once had. Or the travel ambition she had for herself, or others.

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The woman who taught me to get up & go. I like this photo of her. It really shows that spunk. That fun-loving side of a younger woman who toted kids around coast to coast, spun tires, played loud music and showed us how to “road trip.”

 

In recent years, she hated the thought of me going anywhere. It actually caused her great anxiety. So, it got to the point where I didn’t even tell her of my plans. I simply went where I wanted to go and told her about how wonderful it was, once I got back.

Despite attempts to sneak away, she would sometimes hear about my plans from my brother. I’d be off on a weekend adventure, like I was in Cleveland, and I’d get a text from her. “Hope you’re having fun in Cleveland.” I never knew how to take these messages. Was she busting me? Was she sincere…. as in “have fun dear.” Or was it sarcasm? Whatever the sentiment, it was moments like those, I’ll miss and cherish now.

Keeping tabs on me was her hobby. I’m sure of it! And further, she would report my every move to my Amma. (Icelandic for grandmother) I resisted, at times, feeling like the “Amma Squad” was a division of the FBI or something. I’m kidding, of course, I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I was just indulging my independence and free spirit. I am an adult, in every country on earth, with age and wisdom to spare, after all. Our game of travel cat and mouse, was a pretty typical mother-daughter thing, I’d say.

Her health challenges were what limited her travels ultimately. I don’t think she left Canada in the last decade. “No need for a passport” she’d say. I, on the other hand, applied for a passport as soon as cross-border travel required it and have been busy trying to get those pages stamped ever since. I really felt like my passport was an actual ticket to adventure.

I’ll get my wings back. I’m looking forward to 2017. I have to. I need to keep my chin up and eyes to the sky, take things one day at a time. It’s how I’ll cope with this incredible loss. And I do take comfort in the fact that she had her own travel aspirations and a spark inside her, like I do, to see the world and experience what it has to offer.