On hearing the news of the passing of Robin Williams, it gave me huge pause for thought and I felt I needed to express it.
This is a health and fitness site, but I still feel there is relevance here and a lesson to be learned. But more than that, it’s my outlet and area of expression so I decided to take advantage of it for my own reasons.
Public figures die all the time. There is rarely a day will go by without someone known to the public passing away. So much so that we are most likely somewhat numb to the effect. In an era of overnight stardom from reality and ‘talent’ shows, there are so many people that have had their 15mins of fame that the idea of celebrity is somewhat watered down these days.
So, when the news of someone passing that I have never met and only know through film and television hits with the same emotional vigour as a close friend or relative clearly that person has made a huge impact.
Personally, until recently, this has only happened once – in 1991, when Freddie Mercury died. I was one month from my 15th birthday, it was a shock at the time, but the sadness of his death is one that has only grown over the years as I learned more about his life and work. But generally, your peers and your idols are those much closer to your age bracket and so for most of my life there has been little that has truly come as a shock. I was quite sad to hear of Richard Harris passing away, but given his years it wasn’t overly surprising and the news of Harold Ramis did come as a shock.
But not until Rik Mayall’s death was announced had I ever felt that huge sensation of loss as if a big part of my life had just been struck down. I grew up with his presence on my TV and always felt there would be a resurgence at some point after his accident which was teased occasionally with guest spots on things like Jonathon Creek or as part of Ade Edminson’s ‘let’s dance for comic relief’ bit. And to think that Alan B’Stard or Lord Flashheart is no more is quite a hard one to comprehend.
Robin Williams though was a force of nature. From his amazing impromptu stand up gigs, through his comedy acting talents in both TV and film, along with dramatic Oscar nominated and winning roles, for someone voted ‘least likely to succeed’ by his peers at school, he clearly did something right along the way.
This loss is a great one, but it really made me think.
My belief is that we really have one goal in life to consider it successful. When we reach the end we should be able to look back and know that the world is now a better place than it would have been had we not been a part of it. Even if only slightly.
It’s why I changed careers all those years ago and it is what keeps me going on a daily basis.
And if Robin Williams were to look back on his life, he did just that and he did it in abundance.
You would be hard pushed to find a single person who hasn’t laughed once at any of Robin Williams performances. Or who hasn’t been touched by one of his rolls (Dead Poet’s Society being an obvious candidate, but there are many others).
He did what he loved and he did it with joy and enthusiasm and it was that spirit that was so infectious.
Was every performance gold-dust? Absolutely not! But was it always given with energy, gusto and enthusiasm for the performance? Pretty much without exception I would say.
At the time of writing this, the cause of death is expected suicide. The reason for this, who knows?
All I can say from that is, should it be the case, he must have been in terrible pain, because taking one’s own life is not something that is ever done lightly. It’s a last resort to extinguish an internal torture that can’t otherwise be escaped. And his history of drug and alcohol addiction are surely similar symptoms demonstrating this was a long-standing issue.
So, all I really want to say is this:
For the glorious memories and moments he bestowed upon us, I am extremely grateful and I hope he has now found his escape from the pain and is now at peace. He has more than earned it.
His existence has absolutely caused for a better world than one which he had not been a part of. He brought so much joy to millions of people and even if only for a little while, lifted our spirits time and again.
He wasn’t out there looking for adulation in that realm. It’s not like he is famous for his major charity exploits or political agendas (yes, he was an vocal Democrat, but it’s hardly the first thing that comes to mind when you hear his name). He never used his celebrity to push his opinion over those of others other than a level of vocal opposition to the Iraq war. His primary goal, so far as his public persona was concerned, was entertainment.
So perhaps his job was done. He played his part and now he has earned his rest.
But we can all learn from his legacy. One person CAN make a difference. One voice CAN unite a world. And single actions can make the world a better place to live it. Just imagine what would happen if there were more.
So, for the gap he has left behind, I say ‘Shazbot!’, but for the legacy of memories, entertainment and laughter I can only be thankful.
It was a hell of a ride and one that has ended too soon for us, but if it was the right time for him, I’m thankful he no longer has to feel that pain.
O Captain my Captain – Rest in Peace and thanks for the laughs.