Grief is not something I often feel when a celebrity dies. I never knew them personally so the loss of their life does not effect mine directly. At best, I am sad because they won’t be creating new things to enjoy.
This is not the case with the loss of Robin Williams. I have shed more than a few tears since I heard he was dead. Apart of the way I handle grief is by writing about my relationship with the person who died. Up until now, I’ve only written about people I’ve known personally. I figured since my relationship with Robin Williams was that of a public figure and an unknown admirer, it would be appropriate to post this in a public space. What better public space than my blog?
When I was a little girl, I struggled with my ADHD. What effected me the most was the constant failure. Everyone said, “Try hard and you will succeed.” Then I would try so hard, and I would not succeed. Then Robin Williams did a documentary on Dolphins for KCTS. That documentary is my first memory of Robin Williams. I remember thinking, “He’s so much like me and people are letting him make a documentary about dolphins!” Whether or not the man actually had ADHD was irrelevant.
My admiration for him never faltered, regardless of what was happening in his personal and professional life. He never needed to be perfect. When he starred in a movie I did not like, I would sigh and roll my eyes and think ‘that sucked.’ When I heard he was struggling with drugs and alcohol, I would feel disappointed. When I heard about his mental health, I would hope that one day he could be happy.
Regardless of what he did or what he said, he was always my favorite. He was my favorite because of the lessons he taught me. He was never my idol because I never idolized him. I loved him.
I loved him because, despite the fact that he was a always messing up and he was SO high-energy, he still earned so much respect from his co-workers, his peers and the general public. I’ve never wanted to be apart of his community, but I so admired this ability. I felt if Robin Williams could be respected, then there was a chance that one day, I could be respected, too.
I loved him because he could make me cry. He had so many facets, so many places from which to draw inspiration. I could always tell Robin Williams was the kind of man to ponder and brood. I could tell because I am also the type to ponder and brood. He taught me that it was possible to turn the sadness that comes from pondering and brooding into creative energy. Something beautiful could come from suffering.
I loved him because he had wild, crazy energy. It was an energy very similar to my own. I hated mine with the kind of hate that makes your mouth feel like you’ve just eaten charcoal. Its a wild seemingly uncontrollable energy that was, I felt, the cause for most of my failures. Robin Williams taught me that the energy I spent so long fighting against could be used to my advantage.
I loved him because he would fail. He would let the darkness of drugs, alcohol, depression and whatever else, surround his light. It would seem almost to consume him, before his light would drive it away. I have always shuttered at the thought of the demons with which he must have contended. I figured, a man of his radiance would have to have some very scary inner demons. He taught me you should never stop fighting; no matter how bleak things may seem, how dark your thoughts or how many bad choices you’ve made. Never stop fighting.
I loved him because he could make me laugh. He taught me laughter was the best way to stay sane in a universe where the important questions don’t have answers.
You can have love, it seems, for a teacher you’ve never met.
Let’s not forget that Robin Williams was a member of the ‘geek’ community. I have it on good authority that he played Warhammer 40K. I grew up among Seattle’s gaming crowd. There was a story about a notorious 40K battle between Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. Robin Williams supposedly played Gay Orcs, while Billy Crystal played the Jewish Eldar. Thinking back on it, I’m not sure if this story is true. I hope it is. I loved the story so much that I imagined that I was there to watch the battle. I imagined it so much its become a memory, as real to me as any other.
Much of my knowledge of Robin Williams was absorbed over the course of my childhood. I have no memory of where I learned it. I would read interviews and bits of information on various blogs. He was a gamer and he did love Anime. I learned that from a recent Reddit AMA that he did. The memory sticks out in my mind because he told the Reddit community his favorite Anime was Cowboy Bebop. My Dad read it outloud to me. I remember laughing because yet again, there was another similarity between me and my favorite actor. I love Cowboy Bebop, too.
Not only have we lost an amazing comedian and a brilliant actor, we’ve also lost a fellow member of the geek community.
Remember, death is but another adventure.