An Important Lesson from the Life, and Death, of Robin Williams

I am often in the minority when it comes to this type of thing. It seems that celebrities over whom much of society fauns are least on my list of favorites. I was never much of a Robin Williams fan. It’s tough to trust someone who, in interviews, never gives a straight answer. I was uncomfortable with the fact that I could never really tell who Robin Williams was as a person. His comedy seemed a bit too bizarre, too off-kilter for me (as I said, I realize I’m in the minority).

Robin Williams star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Having said that, Robin Williams starred in what is probably my favorite movie of all time: Dead Poets Society. Though it makes me cry every time I see it, I cry because it touches me and moves me to the core. It reminds me of the kind of teacher my father was: creative, against the grain, memorable. It ignites in me my creative spirit. It shows the importance of freedom for creativity and the value of a caring mentor. When he wanted to be, Robin Williams was a great actor.

There is no doubt that Robin Williams’ life “mattered.” Just witness the outpouring on Twitter, Facebook, Television, and all other media upon news of his death. His life and career had an impact on millions upon millions of people.

And now, maybe even more so.

I have lately been doing a great deal of contemplating over the phrase: “Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” No doubt, Robin Williams was fighting his own battles as is evidenced in the news reports regarding his recent (and not so recent) life. People have treated me in ways that show they have no idea the battles I face, and I’m certain I have treated people in ways that show I have no idea the battles they face.

If Robin Williams’ death will remind us that we all face battles, maybe, at least for a time, we will all be a bit more kind. Perhaps we will put the best construction on everything. Maybe we’ll stop talking about people in unkind ways and stabbing them in the back. Perhaps we’ll listen harder, have more compassion, and get people the help they really need when they need it.

No, Robin Williams wasn’t my favorite comedian or actor. But his troubled life and untimely death are an important lesson for us all: “Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “An Important Lesson from the Life, and Death, of Robin Williams

  1. I suffer from serious depression and its still something people dont want to talk about. Unreal. I ask almost daily that God take me home so RW’s death is something I, unfortunately understand. My type of depression can’t be prayed or wished away. It required meds and a whole lot more! I pray that people who see people they love depressed – that they encourage them to get the help we need so we don’t see this with someone we love. Do not assume they should just “suck it up” cuz it does not work that way in the real world

    • Patti, I can totally relate. I’ve battled depression for years and also require meds just to manage it. While I know there’s a spiritual element to it, there’s also a physical side that requires me to take care of myself medically. It’s true that people don’t always understand depression, either because they can’t “see” it or because they may have had a bout of short-term depression and so they “think” they understand it. For some people though, depression is chronic. Our minds have been altered in some way so as not to produce the right balance of brain chemicals.

      I truly have wondered about Robin Williams and other comedians when it comes to mental health. Comedy is a mask for a lot of pain, and I tend to think that the funnier one is, the more likely they have deep pain they are trying to cover up. The same may be true for those who have a lot of charisma or just seem to have it all together. We can never assume that what these folks are presenting on the outside matches what’s on the inside. The key is to get to KNOW people through relationships. Build trust with them. Provide non-judgmental support.

      God bless you on this broken road of depression. Never give up! You have a friend and fellow warrior right here!

  2. To battle depression is exhausting. Meds help but in no way remove the pain. As stated below, it is not just mental but physical. Ignoring it is impossible and it isn’t a matter of being ungrateful. Don’t assume to know or understand another’s demons. Even family members may not know. I pray daily that God gives me the strength to put one foot in front of the other and smile thru the disguise.