Like so many others, this week’s news about Robin Williams passing shocked and deeply saddened me. I have started to write about it several times and had to stop, overcome with emotion and trying to figure out how to express in words what he meant to me. I never met Robin Williams, yet I have been entertained by him and inspired for years. Yes, he was a genius in his comedy and acting. Even his voice talent was unique and paramount. He could whip out jokes and one liners faster than the speed of light ala Aladdin’s Genie. There was also a soft, gentle tone in his voice too, almost childlike. It is this soft voice that has made me tear up this week thinking of losing this talented, troubled, and giving man. In my sadness I have wanted to do something for Robin Williams to honor a man who has continually inspired me.
When I first heard, my first thoughts were of concern for those who were left behind, his family and friends. I was certainly not alone in my shock. I thought ‘I wonder how Billy and Whoopi are doing with this news…. they have lost their friend and colleague.’ l cried when I saw this.
While its undeniable that Robin Williams was a great actor, I don’t think you can act the sincerity and love that shone through in these St Jude Hospital spots. We were urged to help and gently reminded of the wonderful work they do at St Jude and the beauty of those children fighting the brave fight. Robin Williams was indeed a charitable man, surprisingly often in his own quiet way.
Robin’s charitable spirit resonated in Time Magazine’s Tribute to Robin Williams:
Alan Alda: “For years, we had watched with awe as a Niagara of wit poured from his unconscious. Where did that manic waterfall of funny have its source? … Unfortunately, sometimes the mind that runs so fast it can’t keep up with itself also has its downtime. I didn’t know he suffered from depression, although it doesn’t surprise me. But it makes me want to do something. I hope it makes us all want to do something.” Full article here worth a read.
So what CAN we do in his memory? The three things that popped in my head:
1. Educate Yourself on Depression and Talk about It.
Really, its an ILLNESS, not a condition. Yes its hard to understand why someone who seemingly had everything would take their own life. Reports are that Robin Williams was not seen 3 weeks prior to his death. In the early 90’s I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I didn’t get suicidal but I did have weekends I would not leave my apartment, shower or change my clothes. I cannot explain my helplessness or feelings of no worth and need for isolation as in hindsight my life has been so blessed, yet there it was. In therapy I was able to work through that dark period. I did not choose to be in that state, it surfaced and I worked through it. I don’t like to think about those days in my past and they are done. I don’t talk about it out of the fact its the past and well in shame that I was in that state. I know I was sick, I was diagnosed. Maybe if we don’t push mental illness in some quiet corner we can help save the lives of others.
2. Be Kind and Non Judgmental.
In this digital social media age we are exposed to more people than possible in the past. We are “friends” and “followers” of people we know only because they share one interest of ours. I attended a church retreat years ago where many shared their life and spiritual journey. I learned from so many stories, you really don’t know what people around you are going through or have been through. Life is not always easy and like Robin Williams we all have our demons. Lets cut each other some slack. I have seen some message boards and groups head WAY south because of a member who seemed a little off. If the bandwagon is turning ugly and negative, jump off! If you are concerned about a friend or acquaintance reach out. I am forever grateful to an acquaintance in my past who noticed something was off with me and talked to me and suggested I get therapy.
3. Be Charitable With Your Time and Talent.
Williams legacy in entertainment undeniable, he simply cannot be replaced. Sad. He was also an extremely charitable human being volunteering time and talent while raising money for such organizations as St Jude Children’s Hospital, the USO, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundations, Comic Relief and many others. Apparently Williams was humble and generous in his charity work, volunteering his time and voice at times for no fees or superstar demands. He was approachable and reached out to those he was helping. Find a cause you support and do something.
I saw the above quote and it warmed my heart. We can make a difference. In Robin Williams wisdom, he knew that and I see this as a call to action to us. Go do something in memory and honor of Robin Williams. His legacy lives on in us, his fans.
Rest in Peace Robin Williams. May Perpetual Light Shine Upon You.
Lets brainstorm, what are some charitable ideas we can all fit in our busy lives, share yours in the comments.
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