Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dedicating my laughter to the memory of Robin Williams...

A man died yesterday, well, technically, he died on the 11th, but here in Australia that was probably yesterday, and in any case we only heard about it yesterday.

It was an Elvis moment. I will never forget where I was when I heard that Robin Williams was no longer walking this planet. I was sitting in traffic on my way to a braille tutorial. I gasped and the Grumpy Old Man nearly crashed into the car in front of him. I cursed social media because it happens all too often these days that shocking news appears when you least expect it, when you've just been laughing at a dog begging for a sausage, or a satirical dig at the Government and suddenly you scroll down and your heart stops because someone else's heart stopped and you weren't expecting it.

I hate that about social media.

I cried, and cried, and apologised to the Grumpy Old Man for crying over a man I never met. Then I cried some more. Then I tried to sing along to Lionel Ritchie's 'Dancing on the Ceiling' because that song never fails to cheer me up, but my voice trailed off and I cried.

I cried because he was so funny, so silly, so full of life, but life couldn't hold him, life couldn't coax another day out of him. Sadness and distress won in the end. Lots of people are trying to figure it out. How could this man, this funny man, have died from sadness? They want to blame society, they want to blame fame. I blame hormones. Hormones suck. Hormones have no conscience, they are bureaucrats who follow rules. If A then B, and we don't care how brilliant you are, how much people love you, how much you have to offer the world. They go up, up, up because that's the policy and then they plunge because that is the policy.

He had been living with these surges and plunges for decades. He'd self-medicated, and then been through rehabilitation to dry him out from self-medicating. Decades of riding the roller coaster, and he'd had enough. I don't blame him, I admire him for all he did in those decades and how he carried on for so long despite the bureaucracy of hormones.

I am incredibly sad, too, though. So deeply sad, in a way that I can't really articulate. I felt better for a while last night when the Grumpy Old Man and the older boys and I watched one of Robin Williams' stand up routines. Later Erik and I watch Mrs Doubtfire together. We were lucky that Robin Williams found fame and could share his unique kind of brilliance with the world. We would never have known what we would have been missing if he hadn't. How awful it must be to a close relative or friend of his today.

As a post-dualist. I believe that his body and soul are one, and as his body is returned to dispersed energies of the world, his spirit goes back to all that is around us. That particular concentration of humour, insight, generosity and verve ceases to exist in one place, but doesn't cease to exist. Maybe the world will become a little more humorous, insightful, generous, and full of verve because we were and continue to be touched by the possibilities Robin Williams presented us with while he walked, and talked, and jumped and made us laugh and cry.

For me, one of Robin Williams' greatest roles was as Parry, the homeless man in The Fisher King. I always felt this role was closest to how Robin actually was - as if he was playing him. In this role he tells a parable about a king and fool...

Parry: It begins with the king as a boy, having to spend the night alone in the forest to prove his courage so he can become king. Now while he is spending the night alone he's visited by a sacred vision. Out of the fire appears the holy grail, symbol of God's divine grace. And a voice said to the boy, "You shall be keeper of the grail so that it may heal the hearts of men." But the boy was blinded by greater visions of a life filled with power and glory and beauty. And in this state of radical amazement he felt for a brief moment not like a boy, but invincible, like God, so he reached into the fire to take the grail, and the grail vanished, leaving him with his hand in the fire to be terribly wounded. Now as this boy grew older, his wound grew deeper. Until one day, life for him lost its reason. He had no faith in any man, not even himself. He couldn't love or feel loved. He was sick with experience. He began to die. One day a fool wandered into the castle and found the king alone. And being a fool, he was simple minded, he didn't see a king. He only saw a man alone and in pain. And he asked the king, "What ails you friend?" The king replied, "I'm thirsty. I need some water to cool my throat". So the fool took a cup from beside his bed, filled it with water and handed it to the king. As the king began to drink, he realized his wound was healed. He looked in his hands and there was the holy grail, that which he sought all of his life. And he turned to the fool and said with amazement, "How can you find that which my brightest and bravest could not?" And the fool replied, "I don't know. I only knew that you were thirsty."

Parry is supposedly a knight that the king has sent in search of the Holy Grail, but he is also, unrealised by himself, the fool.

To me, Robin Williams was always the fool bringing water to the rest of us tormented souls. What will we do without our fool? We will have to save ourselves.

Yesterday, I decided to dedicate my laughter to Robin Williams. This is a personal thing. Whenever I laugh, I will remember that happiness doesn't mean living without pain, it means laughter despite the pain.

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Good Job!