Robin Williams, comic and dramatic genius, was one of the biggest inspirations in my life. The vast breadth and variety of his roles seemed to correspond to various stages in my own life and development. He taught me so many things, and even though I’d never met him, it felt like I had. When he died this week, it felt like a kick in the gut, like I had just lost a very dear friend, a family member, someone who would never again be there to take care of me.
Robin Williams, the man and the actor, got me through my parents’ divorce, a draw to the arts, suicidal ideation, and a bipolar disorder diagnosis. Robin Williams taught me that what truly matters is our souls and our creative energies. Mrs. Doubtfire calmed me about the unfortunate normalcy of divorce. Dead Poets Society taught me that it was okay to be an individual, separate from my parents, that it was okay to have dreams others may not approve of. It taught me to seize the day, that art is a true indicator of humanity’s humanity, and that there’s always something to live for. Robin Williams the man showed me that bipolar disorder wasn’t a sentence to the asylum, that addiction didn’t make me a bad person. He showed me that there was always hope, that I could still do anything if I believed in myself and loved it enough. That no disease ever had to hold me back. Robin Williams also taught me that it was okay to be sad, that being sad wasn’t a bad thing. Robin Williams the social advocate taught me that it was okay to be LGBT, that bigots were the problem, not me.
Robin Williams was a figure of beauty, of grace, and immense complexity. A truly magnanimous human was stolen from the world at the claws of a terrible disease. I know that he would want us to honor his memory by spreading joy to others, especially when we can’t spread joy to ourselves. I hope that he is now at peace, and that he knows he will be sorely missed, even by those of us who never met him.
Rest in Peace, Robin.
O Captain, my Captain.