Unless you are currently having a disconnect, in which case good on you (and you won’t be reading this), or you take no notice of the world of film and pop culture, you will know about the passing of the great creative genius, Robin Williams. Firstly my deepest respect to anyone who personally knows and loves him. I don’t know him. I only know Mork from Ork, the great Patch Adams, the loving Mrs Doubtfire, Captain, My Captain John Keating, the passionate Professor Lambeau, the never ending Alan in his board game of magial proportions, the mad and fabulous DJ Adrian Cronauer, the awakening Malcolm Sayer, the dark photo obsessed “Sy”, the totally hilarious and deeply touching Armand in his birdcage, the crazy and clever Parry, the horse riding hero of the museum, and the list goes on.
It is a tragic loss to the world.
Do you feel odd when you are so deeply moved by the death of someone you don’t actually know? After the shock, late in the day, I sat with tears rolling down my face for this loss. I think a loss like this to the public world brings up a lot of our losses from our own lives. I have had a lot in the past few years and I know I hold these losses deep in my heart. Have you had that experience with a personal loss being triggered by a public loss?
I also think for me, it was a recognition that there will be some of you who are struggling with the darkness of depression, who will sit up and say “well if he couldn’t hold on, how the hell can I?” If someone seemingly so happy, who had the world at his feet, could not hold on, how can we?
I have dealt with the black dog of depression, and won. I have lived periods of my life when I was younger, where I didn’t want to hold on anymore. I know how hard it can be. But I always chose life. Sometimes it can be too hard to do. Drugs and alcohol muddy the waters. Contribute to the foggy mind of one affected by depression. This is too often a tragic combination. If you are struggling with depression I urge you to stand up on the table and bear your heart on your sleeve. Ask for help. Reach out, don’t be afraid to claim your sadness. This is the only way out of depression – to go through to the other side. And trust me when you do, you will find yourself and your joy.
Yesterday, the day after he died, I did some work, but mostly, I painted and will share that with you soon. I had an overwhelming urge to do something. Take some action. Create something with my hands. The sunshine was beautiful, winter rays glistening across the windows just cleaned by the lovely man who came the day before and worked hard to give my house clean eyes. He was an Engineer in Malaysia and now, he cleans windows so his family can have a better life. That is sure more than holding on.
I could hear the birds calling that spring is nearly here. The rest of the neighbourhood went about their business. And I painted.
It was a joy. It’s the little things that hold us. Maybe Robin couldn’t see those anymore.
Farewell Mr Williams, here is to the joy of life.
Captain My Captain (Walt Whitman)
O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up–for you the flag is flung–for you the bugle trills; 10
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths–for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won; 20
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.