The Music And Silence Of Laughter – Remembering Robin Williams

The news of Robin Williams’ death hit hard, with almost immediate tears, shock and heartbreak. Then anger and confusion, which I think is normal and appropriate. I make no judgment, far from it… and am absolutely horrified by these idiots pontificating and saying the most horrible things online and in the press… and directing a lot of it to his very innocent, grieving family. How dare you?

The house you live in, Rush Limbaugh, is a dirty, blacked-out glass, very shaky and questionable dwelling, and one that should never be a place to throw even the tiniest pebble from.

For the rest of you posting such self-serving and disgusting commentary, you have just judged yourselves… so stop… crawl back under your self-righteous, delusional rock and let us live our lives without you. You will not be missed. (While harsh and not great PR, one can ALMOST understand Adam Richman’s “Twitter rampage.”) Some people can just be cruel and ignorant. Just watch the news every night.  What we need now is compassion and understanding… grief and healing.

Robin Williams made me laugh like no other, moved me to tears, entertained me, and got me through some dark times. I applauded his gift and skill and was envious of his brain and the sheer speed with which it worked. How can someone come up with such true comical genius so damn fast? How can someone know so much about so many things?

He was musical in his comedy and his comedy sang… It was a melody, a bass line and chords all tossed into a blender.  It was joyous and irreverent.  It could be loud or quiet… a solo or an orchestra. It moved like free form jazz, and created a symphony of laughter!

Part of my pain comes in knowing that from now on, every viewing of every clip or film or TV special will hold for me, in addition to enormous laughter and joy… a pain, a gravitas and a sadness. While many of us watch these things to escape, this will show all of us, that there is no escape… that life is always around us, challenging us, testing us… and while laughter and happiness are essential and key components to a happy life… so are dealing with issues and problems head on.

When I was much younger and John Belushi died, I remember how angry I was, how betrayed I felt. Why would someone with so much success and talent do that to himself? Why would he do that to me? It was really hard for me to understand, partly because I was very naïve… about Hollywood… about drugs… about that kind of lifestyle. I was not raised in a bubble, but my life was fairly innocent and idyllic

With Robin, the anger was still there, but I understood so much more… Understand so much more.

I grew up with Robin Williams, and while he was not physically in my household, he was there, in some kind of actual, alien, linear plane. Happy Days… Comedy Specials, Mork & Mindy, Comic Relief, The World According To Garp, Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, Mrs. Doubtfire, and The Birdcage to name only a few indelible and memorable moments.

Celebrity deaths are strange, in that most of the time we do not REALLY know the people who pass, though with some, we have an almost familial relationship. And so it was with Robin. The pain in my gut was on par with losing a family member. Not as deep or profound. But a gut punch nonetheless.

I remember sitting at dinner in Encino with my parents who were in town visiting. I always told my daughter not to have a cell phone at the table, but I was texting with my brother when he told me Clarence Clemons had died. I just lost it… to the point where my parents freaked out, thinking some tragedy had befallen a family member or me. I had to walk from the table, hiding my tears and sadness. And when I returned to address their concerns and tell them what happened, they looked at me like I was crazy. They could not understand how I could react like that to a stranger. But Clarence was no stranger, and he and Bruce and the rest of the E Street Band were a vital and very real part of my life.

What makes Robin’s death so disturbing for me is the very sad realization of what depression can do. It is not anything that was ever part of my life, until recently. And while I hope and pray and think I am very far away from a place so dark, I get it… I mean I REALLY GET IT… and it scares me. And I think THAT is what makes so many of us nervous. How do we stop what we already have from getting so deep and paralyzing? How do we stay away from the inescapable grip of deep, depression?

For those of us in the business, still pursuing the dream… wishing so hard to have even a tenth of the success and life that Robin did, this is also a major blow. Does none of that mean anything? Is all of it so easily thrown away? These are major questions that now pop up… and confused and befuddle us.

But it is a wake up call… a light… a sign that there is so much more… and that enjoying even the most minor of accomplishments and finding true bliss and happiness is so essential. Success, praise, awards, wealth, a stellar family… friends and loved ones can all fall victim to the disease that is depression and anxiety. That is how real and destructive mental health issues can be.

So instead of calling someone weak… instead of being so negative, I beg all of us, once and for all, to acknowledge the power of depression and anxiety, to give weight and serious consideration to mental illness, to work in a real and productive way to combat it, to help people who are sickened by and with it… and to always remind ourselves and others that there is a light, a friend, help a call or a note or an e-mail away.

You are not alone. We are not alone.

G-d bless Robin Williams… I hope you find your peace and can truly rest in it… And thank you for the laughter and the joy and the awakening… for showing us so much… both uproarious and tragic.  That is life… and we must all find our way through it.






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Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, The News Blues, What's On The Boob Tube, What's on the Telly?

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