Aladdin, anxiety, Bengal Tiger, comedy, depression, Fear, Good Morning Vietnam, Goodwill Hunting, mental-health, Mork, Mork and Mindy, Mrs. Doubtfire, Nanu Nanu, Robin Williams, Santa Claus, Shazbot, suicide, suicide prevention, The Fisher King
What I wrote about on Sunday, became even clearer as the news of Robin Williams’ death spread last night. Devastating is the silence of a brilliant actor and funny man, yet even in the sadness, we are all remembering and sharing the beauty of his comic genius. That is the gift he leaves behind, the archived works of a tortured soul putting himself up for view to make other people smile, laugh, and forget about all their ills, all the while his insides eating him up. I passed him on the street a couple years ago when he was on Broadway in “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.” I saw this old man in a track suit headed in my direction, he looked like Santa Claus because he had this full, white, bushy beard. The contrast of this really old looking dude in a bright red track suit made me giggle. It wasn’t until we came face to face when I saw that twinkle in his eyes, and the crinkle around his nose, and he smiled at me as the recognition crossed my face, “Holy shit, that’s Robin Williams!” Don’t worry, I did that in my head, but I smiled big, and continued to smile the rest of the day because that’s what Robin Williams could do.
Even in this photo, which is so apropos, the twinkle is there, but Mr. Williams was caged by his demons and sadly, his death is what hopefully brought him freedom. Depression is one of those subjects, much like anxiety, that we don’t really talk about enough, but that’s because so many people don’t understand it. Plenty of people will offer advice like “Snap out of it”, or “get over it”, but that’s mostly out of ignorance and fear. Depression is an ongoing battle, because it’s one of those things always nipping at your heels wanting to drag you down, and sometimes it feels like relief to stop pulling yourself up. Some people, once they’ve been dragged down, can’t find their way to the surface, others (like me), get into the battle and thankfully find the will to dust themselves off and reset, readying for the next wave. Thankfully there is help, there is medication, there are options that don’t involve ending your life, and I can only urge you to seek that help if you ever feel yourself slipping into that darkness, no matter how appealing it may be. The sun always shines another day, and the wings of the butterfly can always lead you to the next flower.
Rest in peace, Robin, and thank you for the everlasting gift of laughter that will be cherished always.
This link is a suicide hotline, if you or someone you know is struggling, do not hesitate to ask for help.