Sunday, August 17, 2014

What Is Life? A Robin Williams Tribute

Robin Williams was an amazing man. To hear of his passing the past week left an impact on all who ever saw or heard him on the big screen. I did not know Williams personally, I cannot imagine the turmoil that those who really knew him are going through. I do know that I can feel the void without him.

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Williams had 104 actor credits that spanned 38 years (1977-2015). That is an impressive resume for anyone in show business. I have not seen all of his movies, but there are several that stand out and have left lasting impressions on me and my family.

I did not entirely realize the demons that Williams faced. I remembered hearing that he suffered from depression and bipolar disorder, but those were just words to me. He made me happy, didn't that mean he was happy? The more I think about that question, the more I realize the answer is probably no. Williams was hilarious and always put his entire self out there. That is something that is hard for anyone to do even in a private setting and he did it in front of the entire world. He was either crazy or had an unlimited supply of courage. Honestly, he probably had both.

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Thinking about these questions and wondering how someone who brought such hope and joy into the world could be left with none, I began to contemplate what is life? Is life just this game we play? Do we focus only on how others see us? Do we take care of ourselves, of our soul, or are we just rushing forward to the next commitment, the next activity.

I have always been one to write things out and to look up wisdom and comfort in words. I love quotes. Quotations from movies, books, and famous people have given me the inspiration I needed to overcome pretty much everything I've ever needed to overcome in my life. Looking back at my many books of quotations, I am astonished at how many of them come from Robin Williams and his movies. While I contemplate the meaning of life and remember a great man and brilliant comedian, I want to take a walk down memory lane and highlight some of his movies and work that inspired me.

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Still, to this day, the first movie that comes to mind when you say Robin Williams is Aladdin. That probably has something to do with the impression (and obsession) that movie made on me when I was a kid. The things of our childhood never really leave us. It was my introduction to who Robin Williams was. It took me a long time to separate his voice with the Genie, I mean, weren't one in the same? In a way I suppose they were.

But oh, to be free. Not to have to go "Poof! What do you need, "Poof! What do you need, Poof! What do you need?". To be my own master. Such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasures in all the world. But what am I talking about? Let's get real here, that's never gonna happen. Genie, wake up and smell the hummus. ~Aladdin

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I'm history! No, I'm mythology! Nah, I don't care what I am; I'm free hee! ~Aladdin

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The next movie with Robin Williams that made a big impact on me was "Hook." I don't what it is about the story of Peter Pan that has always drawn me in, but the idea of link fantasy and reality and finding what it means to truly live sent a powerful message to me.

Granny Wendy: So... your adventures are over.
Peter Banning: Oh, no. To live... to live would be an awfully big adventure.

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"You know that place between sleep and awake? That place where you still remember dreaming? That's where I'll always love you...Peter Pan. That's where I'll be waiting."

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The other movie that made an impact on me was "Dead Poet's Society." I was much older when I read this book by N. H. Kleinbaum and then watched the movie starring Robin Williams as John Keating.

We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?
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There are many other movies starring Williams with many quotations and many memories. To go on and on would be endless. Robin Williams was a man of character, of many characters in fact, that inspired an entire generation. 

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I don't really have much else to say. This is a man that made many laugh, including me. He made people laugh until they were in tears. He made people who were in tears laugh. Laughter is the best can heal the soul.

Here are a few more tributes that touched my heart...

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

What is life? Life is loving others. Life is laughing at anything, everything and just because. Life is precious. Life is short. Life has past you by before you even realize it is in you. Seize the day. Reach out to others. Love everyone (even if you don't like them very much.) Everyone is fighting their own battles, many of which you can't see. Every kind act of kindness is a reassurance that life is still worth living. Life is love. Life is laughter. Now go and live.

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R.I.P. Robin Williams, 
thank you for a lifetime of laughter,
you will be missed.

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