Robin Williams: Giftedness and Gifting

Robin Williams:

good man, gifted,

gifting us through prolific imagination,

unleashed humor, amazing spontaneity …

Robin Williams /


So much written about R.W.  Thus, Solomon’s piece, at the core of my writing: “It’s all been said before.”

Robin Williams /

Here are a few of the pieces of my processing of a disc-jockey in “Good Morning, Vietnam”, a professor in “Dead Poets Society”, Mrs.Doubtfire, Teddy Roosevelt in “Night at the Museum”, Ramon the penguin in “Happy Feet”, Maxwell “Wizard” Wallace in “August Rush” … Those are a few parts of Robin Williams.

Robin Williams /
Robin Williams /

I was the class comedian, high school, with a joke for anyone and everyone.  The rush of making people laugh was amazing,  and I studied the great comedians: Robin Williams, Bill Cosby, George Carlin, JerrySeinfield, Steve Martin.  Robin Williams was … at times … present where I was, what I was doing.  I read a magazine interview with Robin Williams, and among the many cool things I read I remember something that wasn’t so cool.  I paraphrase: Williams said that at times he is not doing well, and he has to go somewhere by himself.  After that point, I laughed at his prolific spontaneity linked up with his priceless humor … and I also couldn’t shake the idea that there was a dichotomy happening: humor / laughter … and melancholy / depression.  The mixture of these two forces haunted me a bit … and it was because I wanted my depression that I have struggled with since I was a child to be separate from everyone.    I wanted to go to Robin Williams for robust laughter, and I did not want to know that the man struggled with depression like I did.  Incidentally, I didn’t know, when I was a child, that it was depression.  I didn’t learn that it was depression until I was in graduate school (my late thirties) … Sounds crazy.  Robin Williams, to a large degree helped me to release some of my “crazy”, and to be able to sit with all of this, and to laugh through this.

So, having said that … I have to get this pink elephant out of my “thinker”, and on to the white of the page.  Here it is:

Suicide, yes I agree, is wrong.
So is condemnation.
So is judgment.
Our hearts SHOULD go out to the family folks of Robin Williams … Their pain is immeasurable: “No If’s, And’s, or But’s”.
Suicide does not have excuses.
Suicide does, however, have factors.
My opinion: there is a “dynamic” for some people where they are driven to run passionately away from their pain, from their mental illness, from their failures, their shame … toward something that relieves their suffering.  And we all know, (I think we all know?) that the relief is ALWAYS temporary.  The “Black Dog” / Depression is often times NOT temporary.  When the performance is over, the depression remains.

Robin Williams messed up when he took his own life.  But we should be able to tell our close friends  that they messed up when they messed up.  And our closest friends should be able to tell us we messed up, when we messed up.  We can do that without condemnation.  Do I condemn Robin Williams for taking his life? NO.  Am I angry with Williams?  YES.  So, maybe the takeaway is this.  We all need to “do” self-care.  We need to take care of ourselves, well, so that we can bless our families.  If we are wounded, and we are not doing our own work, then how can we be our best with those we love?

Hiding Writers, Reading

‘Revisiting some (old) lyrics, and a theme, previously posted, perused in one of the blogospheres (I don’t know how many there are) … A different direction emerged while the muse came by.  Two fellas, met up in 1953, the elementary school-scene in Queens (N.Y.) became famous in their school play, Alice in Wonderland.  One was the White Rabbit (Paul Simon) and the other was the Cheshire Cat (Art Garfunkel).  Actually, they did not get famous from their work in the theater, doing Alice in Wonderland.  They continued to be bro’s through junior high school and high school.  Simon and Garfunkel, their junior year, emerged as “Tom and Jerry” playing some good music.  Seriously?  Yes.  Someone in the recording studio brought up the “Tom and Jerry” thing … and it faded quickly.  “Simon and Garfunkle” was the balm, apparently.  Eventually, after “The Sound of Silence” which put them on the map, they put together this song, “I Am A Rock”, with the lyrics … here:

” … Gazing from my window to the streets below /
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow. / I am a rock, / I am an island.
I’ve built walls / A fortress deep and mighty … “

I really love these lyrics, for quite a few reasons.  One of my favorite writing quotes goes like this:  “My wife doesn’t understand that when I am staring out the window, I’m actually working.”  I agree.  Productive? Maybe not, but … still … working.  Because a writer is always watching, observing, taking it all in, appreciating (some) details, editing others.  A writer would take time to ” … gaze from (his / her) window to the streets below, taking notice of the freshly fallen silent shroud of snow …”  And a writer is also aware of how easy it would be to become “a rock … an island”, with “walls, a fortress …”  Such imagery.

” … friendship causes pain. / It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain …”

I believe that some writers struggle with friendship more than others.  I actually acknowledge my envy of individuals who don’t seem to struggle at all, ever, with friendships.  They seem to be sufficiently charismatic, cool, and people love to be around these individuals.  Friendships are sometimes hard, and I do think that such struggles contribute to a writer’s persistence in writing, and reading.   And that is why these lyrics, here, resonate for me.  And … a question emerges that I pass your way: would you say, on some level, that you “hide” with books? With poetry? And do you have your armor that you protect  yourself with?  

“I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.”

What is a bit weird is that I really find … asylum … with the spy novels (Thor, Ludlum, etc.) sometimes the Western novels (Johnstone, Lamour), and sometimes the good old mystery-“Who Dunnit”s (Charles Todd, Castle, Craig Johnson).  And there is that great line from Shadowlands (movie): “We read to know … we are not alone.”

So, yeah … I was just curious if you guys “hide” … from time to time … in your books, your poetry, your armor.


Wood, Rain, Wisdom (?)

Reflecting, remembering, recalling, recapturing certain stories from the places I see in the rear view mirror … there is a “domino affect” that happens from time to time. 

‘Chilly up here, the other side of the trees.  Almost cold.  It is cold, but not really cold, as in winter, as in the 30’s or below.  It’s cold mainly at night, early mornings.  On Tuesday, I lunged out of bed, headed for the coffee maker.  I  added my wool hat to my morning attire (Levis, flannel shirt / long-sleeved polo, Crocs).  My better half / my bride …  requested that I build a fire in the stove.  I was embarrassed that I didn’t have any dry wood.  During summer I remove  firewood from its place in the garage, due to incoming / ongoing / mind-boggling projects requiring space in the garage.  It has rained continuously.  I am not complaining, we can always use rain; although our gravel-dirt roads are taking a beating.  And that … is why I don’t have any dry firewood.  Yeaaah,: I should have my wood covered with a tarp.  So, the “domino affect”.  This scenario with the wood reminded me of a brief stint at Central Missouri State University, in Warrensburg (MO.), not far from the Ozarks.  I was sitting in a class taught by an older gentleman, Mr. Purdle: coke-bottle glasses, short-sleeve cotton shirts topped off with a tie, raspy voice, a kind soul, exuding invaluable life experience / humility / humor / wisdom, a story-telling master in the midst of his professorship.  One story comes up now, a story about Ozark humor and Ozark thinking.  Here it is with my slight paraphrase:

One weekend, my friend and I drove over to his grandparents’ home, to spend the weekend.  First night, it rained hard enough to remind us of how one fella built an ark, once before we were born.  There were at least three leaks in the roof.  My friend’s granddad had some five-gallon metal buckets placed underneath the leaks.  I asked the older man why he never fixed the leaks.  He said “Well, when its raining it is too slick to get up there, to fix those leaks.”  So I asked him why he didn’t fix the leaks when it wasn’t raining.  Old man’s response was “When it’s not raining, it’s not leaking.”

Do you see the connection?  I didn’t see a problem about not having any dry firewood, unless / until it was raining.  And when it was raining, I didn’t want to go out and get any wood.  Now, since my mind went from the Rocky Mountains to the Ozarks, specifically a class with Mr. Purdle, his stories about the Ozark people, as a result I was captured by another memory about a large two-day gathering of bands and people (just outside of Springfield, MO.) focused on having a festive time.  Families / children were there, but no drugs happening; the law wouldn’t put up with that.  One of the bands, “The Couch Dancers”, played music like the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, while standing couches up on one end and dancing with the couches, which included twirls and the rock-and-roll phenomenon.  I am now more attentive to getting dry wood, either covered by a tarp, or placed in a dry place, to get ahead of the rain.  And the stories?  I am quite devoted to such venues of wisdom and humor.  It is true: the stories must be told, lest we forget what is important.