“Sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human condition,” wrote Graham Greene in his second autobiography, Ways of Escape.
Spade created what many women would consider the ideal way of living. Her world was filled with creativity, beauty, family and meaningful work. Having brought into being a fashion line alongside her husband, she sold it and was able to take years off to raise her daughter. She had a successful, creative, family-centric business that gave her time to be a parent. After she died, so many women spoke of how she made them feel seen; how her fun, quirky feminine handbags and style made them realize they were not alone.
Bourdain managed to be masculine without being swaggeringly macho. He was rugged and adventurous and knew how to use big knives, but he had his own literary imprint, Ecco books. Tall and handsome, he got to travel to exotic locales constantly and won awards, fame and wealth. And he ate so well. He was also seen as a rare male hero in the #MeToo movement, for championing Asia Argento’s claims against Harvey Weinstein and for siding with women over fellow chefs. What more could a person want?
It’s not much of a solace, but perhaps one thing these deaths could remind us of is the uselessness of envy. As with many of the behaviors once considered vices — greed, sloth, lust — envy reflects a miscalculation in the relative worth of things. When we look at lives like Spade’s and Bourdain’s, it can make our own feel wanting. We haven’t started our own companies, or turned our work experience into a book. They’re happier and more fulfilled, because we are not as hardworking or talented as they are. Their lives look better than ours, therefore they must be better people than we are.