ROBIN: THROWBACK FRIDAY EDITION

Hey there… me again.

This is a slightly different kind of Throwback post. This one wasn’t lost, or accidentally deleted. It was written—perhaps with a bit more haste and emotion than many of my posts tend to be, admittedly—and left to sit, despite the relative timeliness of the subject.

I had a number of reasons for not putting it out there when I finished, one of the key ones being my desire not to contribute to the noise that was already booming through the airwaves. It didn’t matter where you were or what you were listening to, there were so many conversations: conflicting opinions on why he did what he did, arguments on whether what he did was right or wrong, debates around the efforts society is putting in to help or acknowledge those that suffer from the various forms and depths of depression… and so on. 

I figured I would tuck it away for the time being, and post it when it was ready to hop off the shelf and onto the screen you’re looking at this very minute. And I guess this is that time.

Later, Faceless.

-Your Writer

 

ROBIN – August, 2014.

 

This, Faceless. I’m not really sure I even want to, but let’s talk about This.

Yes, I know lots of people have been talking about This. And by now, thousands of bloggers have penned mini-novellas on what a loss and tragedy this most-assuredly is; millions of others have expressed their sadness through Twitter, Facebook and countless other social networks; and some unfortunate anchor on CNN has been talking nonstop for the last 24 hours to any close or distant relation to the man, taking the occasional break to talk about some form of fresh Hell brewing in the Middle East. And everyone that has read, watched or listened to any of this has pondered why: why would someone with such life, success and vibrancy, someone with some much to live for and with so much life to give do something so absolute—so final—to extinguish his unique, wonderful flame?

It all seems unfathomable, doesn’t it? So baffling, incomprehensible? Well it is, until you wipe the tear from your eye and take a deep breath, looking past all of the hyperbole and fanfare, the sound bites and condolence tweets or the folktales of some attention-seeking, washed up celebrity that clearly hasn’t spoken to the man in decades (there was a 10 minute ramble on CNN last night by one such “celebrity” that almost made me vomit).

Robin Williams was a man that snuck into the hearts and living rooms of millions by mimicking the looks, sounds and expressions of others. We always saw the brilliantly-crafted image of what he wanted us to see; and in turn, we only saw what we wanted to see, not what we suspected may have been lurking beneath the beaming smiles, the wild eyes and the laughter. We never looked for the demon he struggled with beneath the surface, because that would break the illusion; and even when we did get a glimpse of it, when he pulled the curtain open wide and let you see the wounded man underneath, he was still wearing that lovable, charming costume he always wore, putting us at ease and giving us the freedom to say “Ya, he’ll be alright”, even if we silently feared he wouldn’t be.

If we’re being honest (which as a general rule of thumb, we aren’t; it’s just the way we’re built), we would admit that many of those around us—even some of us, reading this post right this second—struggle with those very same demons every day, the ones hiding just below the stage of whatever play they’re putting on for the world. We’ve talked about it for decades; stories and articles and studies galore have delved into the concept of depression, what it is and why we experience it, even making arguments for the unexpected benefits it can bestow on those so afflicted. But we still as a society don’t understand it, we don’t take it as seriously as we should – and we dismiss it as being moody or dramatic, in need of a good prescription or just “off”, because many seem to be functional and generally on top of things. But all the while, they’re just trying to keep the dark out: they’re trying to steer clear of the undercurrent coursing beneath any and everything they do that threatens to pull them down into the muck, deeper and deeper still until there’s no air, no light… down to a place where everything and nothing simultaneously matters.

They are strong swimmers; despite the incessant pull, they can keep up the breaststroke and hold their heads above water. But even the strongest swimmer gets tired and needs to ease up, leaving them vulnerable to the current and to slipping under…and maybe that’s what happened to poor Robin. After a brutally long swim, maybe he was simply too tired to maintain that stroke as he had all these years…and maybe it’s a beacon to the other weary swimmers out there to speak loudly when the fatigue hits, to find something to hang onto and catch your breath before it’s too late…even if you don’t want to.


3 Comments

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  1. Very touching insight, I have watched a family member suffer for years and the swimming analogy really speaks to the struggle.

  2. That was an incredibly emotional and well penned article. I applaud your decision for posting this after all the hoopla, simply so it reminded us yet again, that, this was an amazing man who should never be forgotten.

    Thank you for recognizing not only the pain he clearly suffered in his heart, his mind and his soul, but to understand that there ARE others out there….fighting their own battles with ‘that dark place’ and trying to explain to the world that….its OK. Its OK to hurt, its OK to be moody because wearing that MASK takes work. Its hard work to get up everyday and put that MASK on, so people don’t see the true sadness, emptiness, sorrow and despair in your eyes.

    One thing, my one wish for Robin was that he could have been strong enough to reach out and seek the love and support of his family and friends. Its a very difficult thing to admit, to admit that you need help. The fear of being judged or worse, being treated like suddenly youve been diagnosed with a terribly infectious disease, that everyone treats you ‘different’ when sometimes, all you really need is a listening ear, an open mind and a shoulder to cry those tears of despair on. Alas, his decision may seem wrong to us, but who are we to judge? Clearly, all he wanted was for the pain to end. The pain that he felt for so long to just end….and in turn, that only left ending his life. Despite the pain it caused the millions of loved ones, friends and fans around the world, I for one can say that I understand his decision. I may not like it, but that was HIS decision.

    RIP Robin. You are at peace now. Shine down your ray of sun so perhaps it can brighten the hearts, minds and souls of those who may not have the strength to ask for help, who may one day, follow in your footsteps simply to silence the pain.

    Thank you writer,

    May you always be happy, may you always remember you have family and friends who are always willing to listen, who won’t judge, who love you no matter what.

    • Such an awesome comment; I’m glad it resonated with you and hopefully anyone else that lent me a little of their time to read it (which I am so incredibly grateful for)!

      That fear of judgement and ridicule is a powerful one… you’re weak, you’re different are far too quick of responses, sadly. So you shy away, you don’t talk about it, you keep swimming; maybe you even start questioning yourself, wondering if you are just weak… maybe you should just suck it up. Our attitudes seem to be changing – let’s hope those changes continue.

      And again, thanks so much for reading!

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