Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Memoir Monday, RIP

Carpe Diem

At first, with the immediacy of social media these days, we must let the sources and updates build up and hold truth before a rumour of a star’s death is to be fully believed.

Robin Williams had a big influence on the comedic distraction of my childhood. I loved him as Genie in Aladdin and just recently revisited his performance when I watched that childhood Disney classic again, after more than fifteen years, with my young niece. That was such a fun part for him to play and he would be forever imprinted in the imaginations of children like me everywhere.

As a child I also loved Mrs. Doubtfire. It was just the sort of family film that I gravitated toward. The scene at the end of the movie where he speaks as his old maid alter ego, about family in all its guises still being family, still profoundly affects me to this very day.

Mrs. Doubtfire: final scene.

I last saw it on Boxing Day.

I loved going to the movies and my friend and I saw Jumanji together, (my favourite Glossette Raisins in hand) and the over-the-top jungle scenery and animals blew me away. His role in that film was a very under-rated children’s epic adventure story. I was thrilled when I got the film on video for Christmas when I was eleven and I even got the board game to go along with it.

In this clip he is his usual wild and wacky self while promoting the release of the movie.

Jay Leno interview.

Of course I am not old enough to know his early roles (the biggest being Mork from Mork & Mindy). His last attempt at a sitcom seemed to be welcomed with relatively positive reactions, but I never did get hooked. To me he was and always would be a movie actor.

Each time a celebrity dies I already, in a sort of morbid curiosity, start to wonder which of them will be the next headline. They die like everyone else and often in tragic ways, but this sort of thing happens to the rest of us as well and the widespread headlines only serve as reminders of the suffering that many people experience.

This summer I’ve already written about such things in my own family and I can’t not write here when these things happen once more. I see them as the most appropriate time to explore what’s really going on with people. Suicide happens at any age.

He was the ultimate picture of the dark and the light battling for supremacy. Often, it is known, that comedians are the most dark deep down and in their pasts and their private lives. I happen to believe that comedy, laughter, and humour are the only antidotes for Sadness, despair and depression. Without the latter there would not be the former, but they each only serve to highlight the other in sheer contrast.

Never Had a Friend Like Me

This song is in your-face and attention-grabbing, just like Williams always was. HE couldn’t seem to be serious in his many interviews over the years. He seemed crazy and out-of-control through that television screen…to me.

I ask myself tonight: What kind of a friend was he? What kind of father was he? In Jumanji the young boy says to him:

“You’re afraid. It’s okay to be afraid.”

Just what was Robin Williams afraid of?

These are the questions I’d ask when I’d see the man in the media and realize he couldn’t possibly always keep that kind of energy up. He must have been all sorts of things off camera that people didn’t see.

Reports of suicide as cause of death are still being confirmed, but reports aren’t often wrong about these things. The most obvious explanation is probably the correct one, even now. Which one of us is going to be surprised at this conclusion? His depression was widely known. He battled drug addiction and alcoholism throughout his life.

He was a Stand-up who, like many comedians, was shy as a child and used the stage and screen to bring himself out of that shyness. HE went to Juilliard with life-long friend Christopher Reeve. He won an Academy award. All of this gave him credibility.

His role in Hook made him beloved. He seemed, a lot of the time, to be a big kid and perfect to act as a character in a world where you never had to grow up. He could be utterly creepy in movies such as Insomnia and One Hour Photo…both of which my brother introduced to me. Great movie roles such as the psychiatrist in Good Will Hunting and radio personality in Good Morning Vietnam showed his true acting brilliance. He made me smile as a barely competent Russian doctor in the movie Nine Months. He had a gift for improvisation and imitation.

I never did see Dead Poets Society, but it sounds like one I would probably enjoy. Any literary themed movie is one I aim to watch, but up until now I suppose I didn’t have it at the front of my mind or at the top of my to-watch list.

On reading up on all the internet traffic since the death announcement I came across a scene from the movie where the Latin expression I have always loved is discussed. I am titling this sad blog post Carpe Diem because it is fitting.

Carpe Diem

Williams seems to philosophize and reflect on the expression while simultaneously putting the fear into his young students about making the most of life before it’s too late…a lesson we often forget ourselves.

This is something I strongly subscribe to in my own life and, especially lately, have been striving for. None of us usually know how much time we have left. Sadly Williams probably knew by the end, if he made that decision to end it all.

I choose to speak, on this occasion, about what I believe is the important take-away. I know how many people suffer in silence or who are desperate for help to be led out of the darkness they are lost in. Sometimes there is no answer that will satisfactorily appease everyone involved or looking in.

Seize the day or one of these days it will be too late.
RIP Robin.

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18 thoughts on “Carpe Diem

  1. Yes, what a loss to the world. Such an insanely talented person. Just brilliant. I’m sorry that we will never see the rest of the work he would have done. I am glad, though, that he is now at peace.

  2. After hearing the news last night we all thought of Robin Williams and we all had our favorite image of him based on the characters he brought to life. While it may not have been his best movie, the first thing I though of was Hook.

  3. Meredith says:

    You have to watch Dead Poets Society! That was the one that most profoundly affected me and cemented Robin Williams as a great actor in my mind. Thank you for this well-written tribute to him. May he rest in peace, finally.

  4. hi kerry; you did an amazing job on this post. You shared your personal memories and took a balanced approach to his illness and the effects on his life. he was a brilliant comedian. He provided all of us with many hours of distraction, education, and joy. His over the top antics were what we loved him for and probably also part of his way of coping with the darker moments. I thought your post was as good as anything I heard on the national or local media. congratulations, Max

  5. I was heartbroken by some of the ignorant things I saw people write on my Facebook about the selfishness of Williams committing suicide. Dead Poets is one of my all-time favorite movies. In addition to Carpe Diem, we should go and sound a barbaric YAWP as well 😉

  6. Nicely written piece, Kerry. I found your tribute to a dynamic, yet troubled entertainment hero, both tasteful and touching. If there is some good that comes out of such a tragedy, it may be found in the escalation of discussion and awareness about mental illness. The profound contradiction between Williams’ public persona and his personal demons, stands in testament to how universal depression and other forms of mental illness truly is. Thanks for the post.

  7. Great tribute. Shared it everywhere. I saw Mrs Doubtfire several times. “The crazy ones” on TV was also good to watch. A man who makes the world laugh was not able to find happiness and embraced death instead of facing his reality. So sad…unfortunate…

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