Today the world said goodbye to a comedic genius and my heart is broken.
Robin Williams is the first actor to die in my life time, except Brittney Murphy (RIP), who I have actually felt a connection to and been deeply saddened to see go. He brought my generation of kids so many giggles and so much excitement and love. None of us will ever forget his dance moves behind the vacuum as Mrs. Doutfire, his charismatic voice behind everyone’s favorite Genie, his way with Flubber or watching him remember what it was like to be a lost boy again in Hook.
With that said, this incredible actor also touched so many of us with his ability to transend his comedic genius and play beautiful roles in dramatic films like John Keating, a teacher in the Dead Poets Society who made me want to teach kids to have passion or counselor Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting who made me want to help broken kids to understand it’s not their fault.
Robin Williams was a beloved human who, as his current wife stated, “who gave coutless moments of joy to millions.” For me that is definitely true and one of the things that makes his death the hardest is that he wasn’t experiencing joy himself. So much so that he chose to take his own life.
Sometimes it is so hard to think of a hilarious comedic soul as depressed, but at times humor and creation are the greatest mask. If you are a person who is struggling on the inside, please seek help. Depression, anxiety, addiction and the feeling of emptiness that comes with these is a battle that no one should face alone. And though there is a terrible stigma around these words, there are people who are trained to make life better for you, with you. To be the built-in listener to all that is your so-called “crazy.” After working at a drug and alcohol rehab program this past year, I really believe sometimes all it takes to get to a better place is it to have one person on your team. Let them join in your game of life.
A very dear friend of mine who struggles with mental health issues once told me, “you see light in my darkness that I don’t see and that is so hard to live up to.”
At the time he said this to me I was applying to graduate school to be a social worker and was so broken by the idea that my optimism was hurting him even more. Little did I know, I was going to see that with many kids while studying/working in a mental health profession. I have learned that I shouldn’t hold someones light as an expectation, but help them see it for themselves.
Robin Williams lived his life for all of us, he was a light for us amongst his own darkness. For that I will be ever be grateful. My hope is that for those of you out there who can’t see your own light, you seek help in finding it. It is there.
I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite Williams movies, Dead Poets Society. Williams plays an amazing teacher who dares to teach his students to live life to the fullest and fall in love with their ability to feel deep emotion. My challenge to all of us is to make sure there is poetry, beauty, romance and love in our own verse in this powerful play of life.
“And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists,and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?” -John Keating
I would stand on my desk for you everyday of the week “Oh, Captain, my Captain.”
RIP Robin Williams