There are by now, I’m sure, thousands of articles available on the Internet about the passing of the comedic genius Robin Williams. Why write another? Because if you’re anything like me, Williams was more than just an actor or stand-up comedian. He was a friend, a father figure, and a guide into worlds that were before unknown.
Though he was originally known for outlandish characters, he eventually made a name for himself in dramatic acting with films like “Good Morning, Vietnam,” “Dead Poets Society” and “Good Will Hunting,” for which he won an Academy Award. Aside from those listed already, some of my favorites from his filmography are “Patch Adams,” “What Dreams May Come,” “Insomnia,” and “Hook.”
I can still remember the day that I saw “Patch Adams” for the first time. It was a day or two after Christmas ’98. I went to the theater with my brother and cousins because even at an early age we knew that Robin Williams was a funny guy. Was it a masterpiece? Of course not. However the film left an impression on me that has stuck with me to this day: The importance of laughter in life can never be overstated. Not exactly “Carpe diem” but it’s something that has affected me for the better through the years. It is one of many influences that have allowed me to overcome the tough days and to embrace the hope of a better tomorrow.
Comedy, and art in general, has the ability to pierce into our souls and provide a truth that we didn’t even know we were looking for. The stories we view on the silver screen can shape who we are just as much as any person in our lives. That’s why the passing of great actors (especially those who die too soon) is always a burden we’d rather not face.
Sadly in the case of Robin Williams, it appears that his own demons were the cause of death. There was no plane crash or sudden explosion, only the internal struggle of a man drowning in despair. It is a sad cliché that some of our funniest entertainers quietly suffer from what they deem a hopeless existence. Mental health is a puzzle whose pieces we are only beginning to run our fingers around.
Whichever film or scene you most treasure from his work, Williams will be remembered for the laughs he provided to audiences in the past and to future generations as well. I will miss his wild antics and booming voice. I will miss his quick-witted humor and dramatic roles. I will miss the friend who taught me to laugh, even on days such as this when I don’t want to.
Thank you for contributing a verse.
PS-This seems as good a place as any to remind those reading this in America that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number is 1-800-273-8255.