Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction posted August 12, 2014


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my personal thoughts

Robin Williams

by Spiritual Echo



In a recent contest about spending lottery winnings, one of my fantasies was to pay Robin Williams' enormous fee and book him for an audience of one--me. Laughter soothes me, creates some chemical reaction in my body that allows me to deal with the rest of the crap.

I've used humour to diffuse difficult situations, to amuse myself and at times, to tell a person what I really think of them, confusing their sensibilities as they flounder, not sure whether they've been insulted or they should laugh.

Humour has been part of my defence system since I decided at an early age not to be a victim. I often think and tell people my life challenges are part of some cosmic joke. Maybe even a test to see if I have what it takes to navigate the swamp for some greater glory.

Hearing that Robin died yesterday stripped me of that protective gear. A wave of sadness washed over me, a sorrow that increases in intensity because the death was a suicide. I somehow know exactly why our beloved actor and star succumbed to his demons--they won. He ran out of the strength to fight back.

It is no secret that Robin suffered from manic-depression. His struggle with substance abuse is well publicized and he made heroic efforts to allow rehab to be an option for a different life. Given the expectations of the star, I don't have the ability to say a better life.

People who have never suffered from addictions have difficulty understanding why a person might take drugs or consume alcohol. Every addict suffers the repercussions of bodily abuse. Why do they do that to themselves? People ask the question and shake their head. It would be fair for me to say that addicts are used to pain and consequences, most accepting the physical aftermath (when there is an end--even temporarily to the binge,) as a normal way of life. Sober serenity is an alien concept. Addicts know no other existence except the one they live--filled with pain. They self-medicate to stop their emotions from consuming them, not realizing or caring they trade one form of anguish for another. And sometimes, an alcoholic becomes a junkie, using pills to deal with sobriety; when the abusive substance is removed, the demons don't always vacate.

Robin Williams didn't kill himself because of his struggles with any substance. He died from mental illness, the very element of his personality that shot him to fame also destroyed him.

For anyone who saw his ridiculously wonderful celebrated movie, "Good Morning Vietnam," his incredible rant as the disc jockey is memorable. But few people know that none of those scenes were scripted. The director put Robin in front of a microphone and let him free-base--spin his own words and thoughts, becoming the character but tapping into Williams' crazy head space.

I knew all this before the news of his death flashed across the evening news. He simply couldn't harness his incredible talent--all based on inverting his inner pain into box-office receipts. News clips were shown on TV, Larry King asking Robin Williams if he found the sobering experience of Rehab had destroyed his humour. He answered, 'No, I found lots of humour in the situation.'

Why do I find myself laughing at funerals? Though I'm not laughing now.  Again, I repeat and understand-- it's a defence system, to save me from wallowing in my losses. Laughter is just another form of self-medication. It's cheaper, less harmful than booze or drugs, and our friend used it liberally to try and fix the things his audience could not see.

The very thing that catapulted this comedian to fame is the thing that abandoned him in the end. I suspect that Mr. Williams couldn't find anything funny about his life anymore.

                                                               *****

With the fearful strain that is on me day and night, if I did not laugh, I should die.

Abraham Lincoln



 


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