If you’re like me, you may have spent some time over the past week watching Robin Williams videos. Perhaps you laughed along with me at the clip of his first appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, where Robin jumps from his chair to mimic a trained seal at the sight of the microphone dangling over his head. Maybe you were moved by the touching video of Robin Williams tickling Koko, the gorilla who speaks in sign language, or you laughed out loud at his bawdy stand-up routine recalling the experience of having a 300 pound gorilla “interested” in him. How about the poignant “Your just a kid” scene from Good Will Hunting, the inspiring “O Captain, My Captain” scene from Dead Poets Society or a rousing “Good Morning Vietnam” sound bite? Let’s face it, to say that Robin Williams had talent is a gross understatement. He had a quick mind and a quick wit; comedic timing and dramatic gravitas: and, as we all know, Robin Williams was funny. Damn funny! Robin Williams made a lot of people, including me, very happy.
I've also been spending a lot of time wondering how someone who made us so happy could be so sad. That’s why it’s taken me so long to post about his untimely death. Robin Williams was very open about his battle with depression, and his family confirmed that he was struggling with it at the time of his death. But knowing that a person suffers from depression is a far cry from understanding what he’s going through. I've journeyed with several people who battle with depression, but I don’t suffer from it myself. So I don’t pretend to know how someone who could make us so happy could be so sad, and I wouldn't dare to hazard a guess. That would be unfair to Robin Williams and to the many people who do suffer from depression.
So rather than trying to figure him out, I’ll simply appreciate his life and his work. I’ll marvel at his lightning-fast mind and his wicked sense of humor. I’ll be grateful for the attention he brought to homelessness and many other important causes. But most of all, I’ll respect and admire his incredible courage – the courage to stand up in front of millions of people, confronting whatever sadness he may have been facing, to make us happy.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon him.