Dead Poet

Farewell, O Captain, my Captain (Fanpop)

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,

Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,

Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)

Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,

Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,

Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

That you are here—that life exists and identity,

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

-Walt Whitman

I can’t believe he’s gone.

Around noon yesterday, police found the lifeless body of beloved actor Robin Williams in his Tiburon, California home. According to the most recent reports, he died of asphyxiation, the victim of an apparent suicide.

Like millions of other fans around the world, I am in complete and utter shock.

I mean, I knew Williams struggled with depression after surviving addictions to both cocaine and alcohol. I just didn’t know things had gotten so bad that he would take his own life as a result. And now the world he once filled with joy and laughter seems a little darker and more depressing now that he’s gone.

Williams and Dawber in “Mork & Mindy” (Universal Press)

Robin Williams first endeared himself to me in the television show Mork & Mindy, a spin-off of one of my other favorite shows of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Happy Days. He was quirky, energetic and downright hilarious. And it certainly didn’t hurt to have the sexy, high-waisted Pam Dawber at his side, either. I give her credit for planting the seed that eventually turned me into an ass man, but that’s neither here nor there.

During his career, Williams starred in some of the greatest and most entertaining films ever made, including Good Morning, Vietnam, The Fisher King, Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook and one of my personal favorites, The World According to Garp—an adaptation of my favorite John Irving novel. After being nominated for three Academy Awards, he finally took Oscar home for his performance in 1997’s Good Will Hunting—a film that also won golden statuettes for screenwriters Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

Of course, it was Williams’ role in 1989’s Dead Poets Society that inspired me the most. As English professor John Keating, Williams encouraged students at an elite all-boys school to “seize the day” and to “suck the marrow” out of life. At the time, I had just graduated from high school and planned to attend college as a criminal justice major. However, thanks to Professor Keating and some other influential instructors, I soon changed my major to English and have never looked back. Thanks for that, Robin.

Oh yeah… it didn’t hurt that Williams and I shared the same home town, either: Chicago, Illinois.

Losing such a great talent is never easy, even though none of us really knew the man behind some of our most beloved characters. Robin Williams brought laughter to everyone he encountered—both on- and off-screen—and for fans who grew up with him—like me—it seems as if a family member has passed. Life just won’t be the same without him—and for now, the joy and laughter he once provided have been replaced by tears and sorrow.

Rest easy, my old friend. I miss you already.

Posted on August 12, 2014, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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