You’re only given a little spark of maddness. You mustn’t lose it. – Robin Wiliams
Originally, I had a different post written for today, but after learning the tragic news of Robin Williams’ passing I wanted–neigh, needed to talk about that loss since the thoughts surrounding it are weighing heavily on my heart and mind. (Sorry in advance for the change in mood to a bit heavier than usual. Though this space is where I get to choose what I want to write about and right now, its this. The deep connection I feel from loss and bittersweet remembrance of a man who graciously shared his talents with the world. If you are unfamiliar with the event, you can read more about his death in this article by NBC.)
Now, I have often heard of people being immensely distraught over a celebrity death and never quite could grasp how someone could feel so deeply for someone they had never met or known personally. I suppose I had never before known that reach of a famous individual that truly touched me. But sometimes, to feel something for someone, you may not need a direct face to face connection. All you may need is a character with whom you could relate, a movie whose meaning comforted you, or a man whose words/actions made you feel inspired, more whole and less alone.
I am a child of the 90s and as one, Mr. Williams’ work was no stranger to me. He was the voice of the wacky Genie who made me laugh and showed me the magic of friendship. (Aladdin) He was the caring father disguised as an english nanny, who taught me that family is important enough to risk almost anything–even your pride–to be with. (Mrs. Doubtfire) He was the dreamer who lost his way until he once again learned to fly in Neverland, teaching me to never lose my childlike wonder. (Hook) And he was the boy trapped in the body of a man who showed me how life is fleeting, so you ought to live it to the fullest. (Jack) Those movies and many more cloud my childhood with happy memories of watching this master bring an abundance of life to a film.
In many ways, Mr. Williams’ being a staple of my childhood, made him feel kind of like a distant uncle who would come to family gatherings from time to time; who would make me laugh until I cried and who I was instantly glad to see again. That fondness I carried with me as I continued to see him in things as I grew up. As his deep performances became movies that my high school english classes would analyze. Or as I stayed up late to sneak watching his raunchy standup and learn his dirty jokes. I would watch and feel his amazingly brilliant presence that overflowed in whatever he was in–what I could only imagine being the result of putting ones whole heart into something.
So when I learned of his passing, I felt like I had lost that distant uncle. Though I also felt something more, something bigger I couldn’t explain. I actually think its best expressed in comedian Norm Macdonald‘s memory of his first encounter with Williams in a series of tweets. (Read here) The heartbreaking aftermath of a dazzling force of life, a “little spark of madness” being sucked from the room; leaving it a little dimmer and a little emptier than before. The strangest part of reading Macdonald’s story was not that I just felt sad–I did, but more so I felt connected. He perfectly described the feeling I couldn’t put my finger on. And as I continued to read people’s memories of Mr. Williams (Redditors recount stories and love for the man here) and the outreach of condolences from celebrities who have worked with Mr. Williams on twitter, I realized he had connected us all with the love of his incredible gift to entertain. He has left an indelible impression on our society.
So now I understand this feeling of loss for a celebrity. Though I may have not known him personally, he has forever left a mark in my memory.
Thank you, Robin Williams for the humor, the talent, the heart–the memories. You will be missed.
(Robin Williams in the movie JACK, 1996)
As an aside:
Robin Williams, I wish all of us that you have touched could have aided you in your struggle with depression. Or that you could have found help that would give you the strength to deal with it.
For those of you dealing with depression, please tell someone. There are numerous sources available. You are not alone.
(The following are some resources to help. Some are hotlines, some are reading materials, some are foundations…)
(Photo from Nerdist.com)