This morning I woke up before my alarm went off, which is unusual. I was laying under the duvet trying to decide if I was cold or actually needed to go to the bathroom when my alarm went off. That, of course, settled it: I was cold, and thus should hit the snooze button and try to get warm. After a couple rounds of snoozes (I had no compelling reason to jump out of bed), I began lazily scrolling through facebook to see what was up with the world. As I scrolled, I started getting this creepy feeling that Robin Williams must have passed–no one had said it yet, but the number of “Robin Williams has made such an impact on my life” posts seemed to say it for them. And then I finally found them–that row of “RIP Robin Williams” statuses. And it made me very sad.
I was a bit surprised at my first coherent thought, though, after I realized he was truly gone. My first thought was that I would never be able to work on a project with him. It even caught me off guard. In an odd way, Robin Williams has meant a lot to my life. I’ve never been much of celebrity fan, but his artistic ability was one that I loved, and somewhere in my mid-childhood, I’d imagine about nine, ten, somewhere in there, I made a wish that someday I would be able to do some sort of project with Robin Williams. He was an actor who both enchanted me with his performances and made me curious about his techniques. I often find myself watching shows and films not so much for the story, but for the technique, trying to use disparate performances to piece together what, exactly, made a certain writer or actor successful. I tried to do that with Robin Williams’ stuff, but I always got caught up in the performance and forgot. I guess that was what made me so interested in him.
I never knew much about his personal life; never really felt like it was my business to know. And, oddly enough, as much as I might use my Google Fu to research guys I might be interested in, I always felt like it was none of my business to pry into the lives of people who I would likely never meet. Still, I wished I could meet him, could get to know him, could pick his brain about how and why and all the little things, the things that made him him, because those are interesting to me. Perhaps with people I know in Real Life, that comes first, and the Google Fu comes second–because why find out everything you can about a person you don’t know?
The more I scrolled, the more facebook told me–more than I wanted to know, actually. I didn’t want to see all the comments about how “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” or “he shouldn’t have been so into himself” or “he should have just gotten over it” because I’ve been there, and it sucks to be there, and when there’s no light at the end of the tunnel and you realize the tunnel is a dead end, you start digging, and you dig until you can’t dig any more, and you can’t turn around and go back, so you just stare into the darkness and wonder why the hell you’re even trying. You can’t magically “get over” that.
One of the reason why I love my chapter of Theta Alpha Phi is that the members recognize that depression is a real thing, and that many artists struggle with it. I once read a quote that runs along the lines of “to know a man, you must know his pain”, and I think that is true. Nearly every one in TAP has struggled with some form of depression, and those who have struggled the most in life are some of the most brilliant performers I know. Perhaps it is because they’ve known so much pain that they can bring so much joy to others, or so much sincerity to their performances. But the same thing that makes them so strong is what makes them weak, too.
Thank you, Mr. Williams, for being so strong for so long. Thank you for showing us all sorts of marvelous things. Thank you for being you. We will miss you so, so much.
Thank you, and, goodbye.