If you’re like me and browse social media feeds waiting for something interesting to start trending, then you, too, probably found out about the unfortunate death of Robin Williams through an online news source as it went viral.
Robin Williams was the type of actor who was so talented and recognized that he was easy to take for granted. He left us with timeless classics like Good Morning, Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire, and one of my personal favorites, Dead Poets Society. It wasn't until I read what happened and rewatched one of his films that I realized what we'd lost and, more importantly, what a tremendous person we had in Robin Williams.
While there is much good for us to remember about Williams’s life, there is also much that we should take away from a tragedy like this. Out of respect for his family, I won’t acknowledge what is believed to be the cause of his death. I will say, however, that his passing was stunning to many who were unaware of his struggles with depression. We hear about it all the time. We hear about the hotlines, counselors, and therapies that are supposed to prevent this type of thing. But it isn't until we see it happen to someone we care about that we start to realize how important it is to discuss.
Depression is serious. Admitting to having a mental illness takes strength and courage. Regardless of how tough it is, it is critical to talk about it with someone—a friend, family member, therapist, or even a stranger. Being the outlet for someone means so much more than we realize. As we mourn the loss of a beloved actor, let us remember to be kind to everyone we meet, because anyone, even the funniest person on the planet, could be struggling with something more substantial than we realize.
When someone dies, it’s important to reflect on that person’s life, not his death. Williams's death certainly serves as a lesson for us all, and I, personally, have received some of the greatest lessons from his films. Growing up with divorced parents, I always loved Mrs. Doubtfire because it provided a comedic outlook on a tough issue families deal with. Attending an all-boys' school and having the pleasure of being taught by some of the most inspirational people, I always admired Dead Poets Society, especially Williams’s character, Mr. Keating, for his advice to stray from conformity, appreciate literature and poetry, and be our own selves.
Mr. Keating’s message that the themes we find in poetry—like beauty, romance, and love—are "what we stay alive for" is one of the reasons I've come to love reading so much and why I love working at the press. From Williams's comedic roles in lighthearted films like Aladdin and Flubber to more serious roles in dramas like The Fisher King and Good Will Hunting, there is such a range of messages that it’s hard not to find one we love and relate to.
I want to end this post by remembering the inspirational person Robin Williams was to millions and by quoting one of his most memorable lines: "Carpe diem. Seize the day. Make your lives extraordinary."
Rest in peace, Robin Williams. You will be missed.