Lessons From…Robin Williams

I do not really follow or keep up with celebrity news. I am not saying this as a matter of pride or superiority simply as a statement of fact. Don’t get me wrong, I keep up with the projects (films, shows, books. etc.) of individuals that I find entertaining or intriguing, but I always considered their personal lives to be just that-their personal lives.

Today was a bit different, however. Today, Robin Williams was found dead in his home. I never had the pleasure of meeting the man personally. I only had the delight of experiencing his art. I continue to be surprised with the ease in which great comedians are able to vacillate between making people laugh and drawing out deep emotions from a crowd. Robin Williams was one of the best at this.

As great and funny as he was, he also had an incredible talent for drama and exploration of human emotion and empathy. Hell, here is proof:

Dead Poet’s Society was one of the first “real movies” that I watched and that had a profound effect on me. It was not a simple flick you could watch in an afternoon. It merited multiple viewings and actual consideration to truly appreciate it. A large part of that was William’s performance. You actually believed he had been passionately teaching for years. In a way he had.

Every performance he did was a lesson in acting, comedy, and/or life in and of itself. I remember watching his Live on Broadway special in the middle of the night in my room with the audio barely audible. My family was (honestly still is) not a fan of certain type of humor which is basically every type that I love. Once Robin got to the “Scots and Golf” bit, I pretty much died laughing not caring if someone crashed through my door or not. The man was a comedic genius.

If the value and meaning of a man’s life can be measured by the impact he had on his fellow humanity, then Robin Williams lived one of the fullest and most worthwhile lives imaginable. I do not know the details of his death, and I do not need to know them. I do know that he had a long battle with addiction and depression, both horrific diseases that are too often treated as character flaws, that seemingly resulted in his death. I do not know if he sought  help or how effective it would have been because depression is a lifetime struggle that you can never fully measure or understand. It is a lying bastard that has to be respected but never submitted to. (If you are going through something similar, please seek help.)

The world feels a little darker with the loss of this man. The sun will still rise tomorrow, the earth will continue to spin, and life will, as always, move on, but somehow it just will not be the same. This is usually the part where I would mention the lesson(s) we should derive from a piece of media, but Robin Williams entire library of performances could be used to impart wisdom. Frankly, it should.

In fact, what better way to celebrate the man’s life than to remember him through is art. Seriously, at some point this day, week, month, or rest of the year go and see his films, comedy, television shows/appearances. You’ll find something noteworthy, entertaining, and realize you probably have a favorite performance. I suggest you start with Dead Poet’s Society, Good Will Hunting, World’s Greatest Dad, or Live on Broadway.

There is no direct lesson to extrapolate, but if there is something to learn from this great man’s life it is simple Laugh, CryCreate, Seek Help, Live. Go hug someone today. Watch a funny movie and have a good laugh or a sad one and a needed cry. Live your life as best you can and get help whenever it becomes too much, but no matter what LIVE. With that in mind, I’ll leave you with this:

Thus endeth today’s lesson.

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One thought on “Lessons From…Robin Williams

  1. The comedian is often at his best when he makes us think something we take for granted as strange. For instance, where did golf come from? How odd and outside what I knew. So, too, is the (and this) comedian’s death comedic in its own way. We take for granted that a man who laughs and who makes us laugh must also be happy. Rest in peace, Mr. Williams. I’ll remember you first and always from “What Dreams May Come.”

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