Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Echoes and Ripples; Keep Heaven Rolling Robin Williams by Robin Janney

A man of many facets...
Just over a week has passed since the news of actor/comedian Robin Williams's death shocked us all.  It was news that sent many of us reeling, causing YouTube clips of his movies to be shared like wildfire on Facebook and all sorts of meme's with quotes from either him or his acts.

There has even been a Facebook community created in his honor named RIP Robin Williams.  No doubt they'll have their "trolls", just like Robin's own daughter Zelda had to deal with.  Death truly brings out the worst in many people.  While there are many tributes hitting the world wide web, the best tribute I've seen to date was the impressionist Jim  Meskimem who had to decide whether or not to continue doing Williams' voice.  

It is comforting even as it brings a tear to your eye.  At least it did mine.

I can spend hours on YouTube, lost in a sea of clips watching either old interviews or movie clips.  But then, who can't?

I find that all the clips comfort as much as they hurt.  Because there is comfort in knowing that Robin Williams can never truly be gone.  He will live on in these clips, in his movies yet to be released (Night at the Museum 3)(I haven't even seen #2 yet!)  For some, he will live on in their memories.  Two of his more youthful co-stars Mara Wilson and Liza Jakub have written posts about working with him on Mrs. Doubtfire.  Ben Stiller, star of the already mentioned Night at the Museum movies also has shared some memories, not all set related.  I could go on and on.  Their memories confirm to me what I said to my mother just a few days ago - that there was much more to Robin Williams than met the eye.

And yet, those same clips hurt.  Because he is gone from this realm of existence.  We will never see anything new from him again.  All we will have are echoes and ripples.  Echoes of his voice, and his laugh.  Ripples from the kindness he showed to a multitude of people.  He leaves behind a legacy of humor and joy, and yes, even a serious wisdom.

Yes, he killed himself.  And while that casts a dark pallor on his memory, it will fade in time.  It will lose its sensationalism.  And hopefully we will begin to look upon others with kinder eyes.  Because if there is one last lesson Robin Williams teaches us with his death, is that you can't tell by a person's behavior if they're depressed or suicidal.  (or if they're "saved" but that's a different topic)

Fake it till you make it - worse advice ever!
Robin was open about his battle, and make no mistake that is a brave thing to be.  Many look on depression as a weakness, a sin, or at the least a sign that you've sinned or been lacking in faith.  There are many shades of grey to depression.  Sometimes it is an expected result of a life circumstance (death, job loss).  Other times it is a hormonal/chemical imbalance. Illness, either their own or a family member.  A person can control none of that.

Some will argue that you can control your attitude about these things and triumph over depression.  It may be.  Personally, there have been times when I've had that "right" attitude, and could still feel that explainable sadness lurking beneath.  I've even been told "Fake it till you make it!"

Yeah, about that.  It's bad advice.  No "buts" about it.

It might work in cases of depression caused by life changes, but if the problem is chemical in nature, no amount of faking happiness is going to trick your endocrine system into working properly.

Some say that what Robin Williams did by taking his own life was selfish and cowardly.  If you've ever stood on that precipice yourself, you know that it isn't as cut and dried as all that.

Selfish?  When all you want is for the pain to go away, for the darkness that weighs you down to go away, for the mad voice that tells you it's never going to change to just shut up - - - No, it isn't selfish to want these things to end.  We're told that taking care of ourselves before others is a sin (Yes, I have been told that, in the same breath that I've been told I was being ungrateful for feeling as though I was being taken for granted.  After all, every good Christian knows we are here to serve others before ourselves).  So we ignore our own symptoms.  Some of us are strong enough to recover without help, others may never recover because they put their treatment off for too long.

Cowardly?  To willingly drain your life away and face the unknown that is on the other side?  I am in no way saying he was brave for what he did, but he wasn't a coward either.  His pain outweighed any fear of death he might have had.  His pain outweighed rational thought.  I've said this on my own blog, and I'll say it here: We have no idea what he struggled with in those last few hours.  And honestly, we don't need to.

What we can understand, is that Robin Williams was never alone in his struggle.  He had the love and support of his family, which is something not all people are lucky enough to have. We all need a reliable support system of friends and/or family.  There is NO shame in admitting to being depressed - for whatever reason, or for no reason at all.  There is NO shame in admitting that you're fighting a losing battle and need help.  And if there are people in your life who treat you as though it is: it doesn't matter who they are, they are wrong and you need to ignore them.  If possible, cut them out of your life and replace them with people who treat you with the respect and caring you deserve.  You deserve better.

We will forever miss Robin Williams, whether we knew him personally or not.  Because he brought joy to so many of us, whether he knew us or not.  May he keep heaven rolling in laughter!