Let me backup. When I was a kid I LOVED Mork &Mindy. I even had a bright yellow Mork & Mindy night gown (don’t judge it was awesome). As I got older, and BIGGER. Robin Williams movies helped shape a fantastic world view of humor, and reality, and poetry. Heck, I even lost my virginity to date night viewing of dead poets society. However, movies are a farce, they are a collection of writers and directors making that magic happen, and whiel Robin deliver is fantastic and his improve in Good Morning Vietnam some of the best there has ever been… movies a collection of people making entertainment. Where I really came to love Robin Williams was in his stand-up comedy and his interviews. His stand up was raunchy and didn’t hold back, it was smart, much smarter than most people appreciate. His comic relief bits were amazing and I’m glad to have finally seen him perform live once. But I wish I could have told him something that maybe could have saved his life now. That he saved mine.
When I was in grade school I had gotten fairly large, by most account not huge but big enough to be fat… to be the fat kid, and in a school as small as mine there was only room for a few of us. I was shy (shocking is you know me now) but I was fairly intimidated by people in school and even though I was bigger than them, I wasn’t stronger. I wanted desperately to be someone else. The people I admired the most at the time were Leonardo DaVinci and Robin Williams. One seemed to have been able to grasp all of the worlds knowledge at once. The other seem to be able to fluidly walk through the world and be both loved and in control of the word around him. It wasn’t just being funny (I was never going to be class clown, that role was taken) It was being able to command a situation with comedy, with irreverence, with wit, and intelligence was in your back pocket that nobody thought you had and then Wham!! your opinion wasn’t just funny… it was poignant, interesting and knowledgeable. When you watched Robin in an interview, whatever it was that you thought it was going to be about didn’t matter because now the interviewer was talking about whatever Robin Williams had TOLD him they were going to talk about. I truly admire that ability. In fact, at one of my darkest times in my life when I wanted to die it was at the same time I was learning to dance and come out of my shell. See Robin didn’t care if he was behind the ball or in front of it in an interview… many of his interview had the same jokes, but they were funnier sometimes more than others. This was a great knowledge to have, just because my wit wasn’t fast now… it would get faster with practice. I contemplated suicide a few times, looking back I couldn’t tell you how serious I was, but it felt serious at the time. I had the run the car of the roads moments, the no one will ever love me moments, and definitely the fat ugly kid just-make-the-ridicule-stop moments. I spent a lot of time memorizing and mimicking Robins acts, sayings, mannerisms, voices, etc… he was model for how to command appreciation even when, and lets face it like he did, you’re a short hairy funny looking guy. I learned to live in my own skin, to talk to girls, how to write poetry, and to always have a tidbit of knowledge up my sleeve. I learned to study for the sake of it.
I never mimicked Robins drug issues, unlocking the mind that way was something I wasn’t interested in, as he was a great advocate through his comedy and personal experiences to NOT do drugs. He knew from experience what was bad about it, and he let you know.
AS many of your know from my blog (https://livingontheoutsideaisle.wordpress.com) I’ve had my share of challenges and depression in losing weight, recently, SADLY, gaining about 30 back. I’ve joined a gym and I’m eating healthy again, so I should be able to knock it out and keep it off right?!
However, last night, the first step on a treadmill in months I look up and see that Rohin Williams has died.
This was devastating to me, I almost broke down and cried right there in the YMCA. Here was a hero of mine, that made an awful decision to take his own life. HOW the hell could he do that. Not for me mind you, although selfishly I wish I could say that. Not for his fans. Not for fame or fortune. But he had an amazing family, that stood by his side through a pile of shit he crawled through and came out of again and again. Recently he had even gone back to rehab as a precaution, a commendable move. He had a wonderful daughter, ZELDA (named after the video game how cool is that). Now that I have kids they are one of the reason I fight so hard to stay alive, to not give up, to lose weight and at the very least be around to see them grow up a little. How could he just snuff all that creativity and brilliance and love away.
I was standing on that treadmill as those thoughts raced in my mind, as tears welled up, and I got pissed off. You can have a lot and squander it… you can have little and make the most of it. As the quote from Dead Poets Society goes…
“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, ‘O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’ Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”
How could he end the poem where he did, how he did?
I got angry because he was someone that forgot to embrace all that sustained life in order to pursue a longer verse. He forgot that the writer doesn’t have to be the tragic figure, just because poem is tragic. Yes the play goes on… it moves forward… and you do get to have a verse… but the powerful, the lucky few that get to not just add a verse but get to sign their name on the work, they have a special connection to all the other verses, they bind us in sadness, in theme, in humor, in art, in love, in faith. Robin got to sign his name, and then he put a period at the end instead of a comma. However, his legacy can be through all the verses he helped write on top my heart. That I didn’t kill myself… that instead I have lived this long in part because him.
I got so angry and so depressed. But even as I stood on that treadmill I realized that he taught me one last lesson. One that I will hold true. My last lesson from my captain, O’ captain is this…
It’s time for me to be the captain. So I started running.