The first time (in my memory) that I cried in public was watching Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society. Despite the misogynistic, cliched subplot of trying to capture objectified female love interest, and despite the stunning lack of any female characters…Robin Williams spoke to me on levels that have shaped my entire life. He taught me:
- It’s all right to have dreams and passions that don’t fit in with the world around you.
- You can make a difference in someone else’s life even when those in authority tell you that you were wrong.
- Sometimes you will try to help someone, and your efforts will fail. Even so, you shouldn’t give up.
- Honor, integrity, and truth come from an inner moral compass, not what someone in authority tells you.
- Honor, integrity, and truth are earned at great cost and require a lifelong struggle.
- It’s better to lose by trying to do the right thing than to win by doing the wrong thing.
- Sometimes bad things happen in your life, but it’s not your fault.
Robin Williams made me laugh. He made me howl, and I cringed at his off-color jokes.
The first time I heard about Robin Williams, someone mentioned his name as a joke. I didn’t understand until someone else explained that he was a comedian. Then I saw him in Dead Poet’s Society, and he shook me to the core of my being. I had to do the usual switch to repopulate the school with female students or imagine myself as a boy (typical requirements for a woman watching film), but once I did so his words seemed to be given to me.
Find what you love, Robin told me. Find what you love and cherish it.
What a sad irony that the man who remains famous for a movie raising awareness about suicide most likely died by suicide. I can’t imagine the years he struggled with depression, the anxiety, and the personal demons that drove him to drug addictions and his death.
Robin (if I may be so bold as to call you that), thank you for taking your gifts and sharing them with the world. May you find peace in your final journey, and may you find relief from your pain. Thank you for making the world a more beautiful (and humorous) place. You left us far too soon, but your suffering is over.
A few weeks ago, I found this video of Robin Williams meeting Koko. It’s how I’d like to remember him–laughing.
What are your memories of Robin Williams?