Why do talented people have to suffer so?
I am shocked by how much this lovely, wildly talented man’s suicide hurts. We lost a friend earlier this year to suicide, and like Robin Williams, our friend was thought of by everyone who knew him as a wonderful, funny, happy, generous guy. His suicide rocked us all to the core, and even though I didn’t know Robin, his loss is doing the same.
There was no missing that Robin Williams was manic at the very least. His live comedy was all over the place. Highly entertaining, to be sure, but still visibly unbalanced. That was likely a large part of his appeal. You just never knew what he was going to do. In 1980, my parents actually let me go see his live show, “Reality, What a Concept.” (Still not sure why they agreed to that.) At one point, he actually started climbing the curtains. It was the funniest performance I’ve ever seen, and it had a big part in forming my sense of humor (such as it is), but it was also a bit scary.
He was in so many of the movies I’ve loved, movies that will stay with me forever, like The World According to Garp, What Dreams May Come (which makes us cry hard every single time), Dead Poet’s Society, Awakenings, AI, Bicentennial Man, Too Wong Foo, Toys, The Birdcage, and on, and on, and on.
Unbalanced or no, there are few U.S. icons these days as beloved as Rob. In addition to his overwhelming talent, the man’s reputation as one of the nicest men in Hollywood also spoke volumes about the level of devotion he (should have) enjoyed.
In early 2000, I joined Audible.com specifically because I’d heard that Robin Williams was doing an audio interview show. He got a really impressive list of greats to sit down with him. I downloaded and repeatedly enjoyed these interviews. In particular, his interviews with John Lasseter, Nathan Lane, Eric Idle, and Billy Crystal were played and replayed on my 1st generation iPod Mini. I absolutely loved the show. They are no longer available on Audible, but wish there was a way we could all have a listen. He so genuinely enjoyed his interviewees that you found yourself enjoying them right alongside him. It’s hard to imagine that someone so seemingly filled with light was all along battling darkness.
Although I’m dealing with some tough things right now (who isn’t?), I am lucky enough to have a pretty good handle on my depressive tendencies. But I worry what something like this must do to the thousands of people currently struggling with thoughts of suicide. If I were in a worse place, I know I’d be thinking if someone as beloved as Robin Williams can’t make it, what chance have the rest of us got?
So I’m sending love and hope and better days to all my people and to all the people who read this who do daily battle with darkness. Keep fighting, lovelies. I will, too. You never know what beautiful thing is around the corner.
August 11, 2014 at 9:33 pm
Really well said. Thank you for writing this–and for visiting the Jenn stories so I could find this post.
August 11, 2014 at 9:41 pm
You did a good job, too. Thanks for the visit. Wish it were for a happier reason.
August 11, 2014 at 9:51 pm
Yeah, I wish so, too. (Your blog as a whole looks great, by the way.) I feel like some people just leave an inimitable impression. Robin Williams was one of those.
August 11, 2014 at 9:38 pm
One of my all time favorite people, not just actor, not just comedian (even though he is my all time favorite) but all time favorite people. Nice post.
August 11, 2014 at 9:42 pm
A lot of people have a lot of good things to say about him today. That’s a little comforting, at least.
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August 11, 2014 at 10:25 pm
Thank you for this beautiful, heartfelt post. I wrote about this today too and it has rocked me as it has you and others. The world has lost a bright light trapped behind a tragic darkness. I wish it aw
August 11, 2014 at 10:42 pm
I read your post. It was painful and lovely and honest (and very you). Hugs.
August 11, 2014 at 11:19 pm
Thank you. I appreciate that very much (the words and the hugs).
August 11, 2014 at 10:14 pm
Beautifully said. Very sad loss indeed.
August 11, 2014 at 10:19 pm
Thank you. Feels like a family member has died for no better reason than that he’s entertained me in my living room for most of my life.
August 11, 2014 at 10:25 pm
My feelings exactly. I felt the same way when Richard Pryor died. He and Robin were the two funniest, most comically genius people ever in the business. So very sad to hear about the suicide, it really seems to be a curse to be genuinely funny and entertaining in this country.
August 11, 2014 at 10:40 pm
It really sucks that high levels of talent seems to come with built-in monsters.
August 11, 2014 at 11:50 pm
August 11, 2014 at 11:29 pm
Well said and such a sadness for the world that such a beautiful man who filled the hearts of others with laughter and joy, had to battle such dark demons.
August 11, 2014 at 11:44 pm
I guess we’ve all got to keep propping each other up. I’m not afraid to cross the finish line, but I’d hate to miss half the race.
August 12, 2014 at 6:21 am
What a well-crafted post; the last two lines are brilliant and will stay with me, encouraging and strengthening me. The only good, if one can call it that, from any tragedy is that those left behind might treat one another – and ourselves – with greater tenderness. Loss and grief must be forged into bridges to better times. That is the OBT we must take from this loss.
August 12, 2014 at 9:47 am
Thank you, and I agree completely.
August 12, 2014 at 6:42 am
Beautifully written post. I’ve just finished reading “Leaving Van Gogh” and now this. Two brilliant flashes of energy and light both battling interior demons. My heart is just broken for Robin because I, like you, felt I knew him. He was dearly loved and will be missed.
August 12, 2014 at 9:48 am
No matter how it ended, I think that’s a good indication of a life well lived.
August 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm
Thank you for ending with sending love and hope. I always know when it comes from someone who deals with depression and other mental illnesses, they truly mean it.
August 12, 2014 at 3:04 pm
Nice of you to say. Thank you.
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