Most people that remember any part of the past millennium (which is still, thankfully, most people) know about Robin Williams and his demons. He got help and he beat them back for a long time. We thought he was okay. This is where we go wrong -- we can't ever know that. Bipolar, depression, addiction, OCD and any number of other common disorders are more or less permanent. They can be managed but never really cured. If we ever needed proof of this, consider a man whose entire existence was wrapped up in bringing people joy and who did it in ways no one even dares imitate. They're saying that husband and father of three took his own life last night.
We've lost some good ones in the last couple of years, many far too young. I won't get into listing them here but you can't have missed it -- particularly James Gandolfini and Philip Seymour Hoffman. For some reason, though, this one affects me so deeply I'm writing this post just to work it out. Thanks for indulging me.
|@BostonTweet: A memorial for Robin Williams at the "Good Will Hunting"|
bench in the Boston Public Garden. (pic @rabbitnutz)
I'll confess I started this post last night, and I went a little darker here. Hey, I was already tired when I got the news. I just want to offer two things:
- If you've ever wanted more of a straight-up Robin Williams, something deeper than he was ever going to give you while he was in character on Carson or whatever, you have got to check out this re-posting of Marc Maron interviewing him on WTF. If you're unfamiliar with Maron, he's a great, great stand-up that went through all the swings of the nineties comedy scene like a whole bunch that never made it out, and the two of them knew each other a little back then. You'll never hear anything else like it.
- I'm hearing a lot of people say something to the effect of "I don't get it" or "I don't understand why." There's worse, too, but people loved him enough to slap those assholes back into their chairs. So here's what I can't stop myself from saying --just this once -- to folks that doesn't get it: That's just fine. Now stop talking.
If you don't get it, you're lucky enough not to be afflicted with this, and believe me, if you're not afflicted with this, you will never get it. Please accept that and don't try to reason it out, especially out loud. Reason had nothing to do with it, his family had nothing to do with it, his career, his success, his house in Marin had nothing to fucking do with it. It's got nothing to do with strength or weakness, magnanimity or selfishness. It's death by disease, as easy as having a heart attack or toting an oxygen tank around for thirty years and finally falling asleep against the tube one night.
If I sound a little heated, I guess it's because "I don't get it" is Reality-TV-Watcher for "I would never do that." It's sloppy thought. Robin Williams was no fucking Kardashian. We knew him for all the reasons we shouldn't know them.
I can't imagine what it would mean to have such prodigious talent, but for whatever reason, all signs point to "It's pretty hard." So let's focus a little more on what he gave us; none of us know what we would do if we were him.