What I've Learned From Robin Williams
"You - you alone will have the stars as no one else has them ... In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night ... You - only you - will have stars that can laugh." -Antoine De Saint-Exupery.
I was at dinner last night with my family when I opened my phone to Facebook and saw that Robin Williams had passed away. I gasped, looked up, and everyone at our table both young and old had the exact same reaction. Hands flew to hearts or mouths and we all stared at each other in silence.
Robin Williams is an incredible gift that we are all fortunate to receive. When I think of Robin Williams I think of the many incredible stories he told in his life and how much joy, laughter, and profound humanity he was able to share through his craft. People often think that acting is about becoming someone else. Yet it is physically impossible to become someone else, no matter how hard you try you. It’s physics. You will always you be. What actors do is bring themselves and every fiber of their being and give their voice to someone else's story. It sounds so simple and yet very few do it the way Robin Williams did it, with magic and ease. And that is because in every single one of his characters he truthfully and simply cracked his chest open and allowed all the beauty and imperfections flow. And he does it with so much joy and so much care that it’s impossible not to be mesmerized and transfixed by his performance.
We often take everyone and everything around us for granted. And it’s not done on purpose or in a selfish way, it’s only because that is what we know. The people and places around us are constantly with us, we are familiar and accustomed to just having them there. That’s, in my opinion, what makes death so incredibly impossible. Not being able to walk into someone’s home and see them on the couch or not being able to pick up your phone, scroll to their name, and call them. We are left with relics and objects that become talismans because it’s all we have left of them. A t-shirt, piece of jewelry, or a Christmas stocking are the only physical objects we have that are tangible reminders of their existence. One second they are here and then poof. That is all you get.
There’s no denying that Robin Williams touched thousands upon thousands of lives. He brought an overwhelming sense of play and flawed perfection to every single one of the characters he played. As you look at all the pictures and tributes people are posting, you can just tell that he was one of the special ones. He cared. You can tell he cared a lot about storytelling and making people laugh. He may have been a “funny” person but it was because he worked so incredibly hard and was so truthful and open to play that everything he touched turned to gold.
Robin’s daughter Zelda posted the insanely beautiful quotation to her twitter account last night and I am grateful she shared it. “You-you alone will have the stars as no one else has them…In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night … You - only you - will have stars that can laugh."
It’s so easy to take things for granted. Your jobs, your loved ones, your past, present, or future. It’s hard to care every second of every minute, especially when times are less than ideal, but one thing growing up watching Robin Williams has taught me is that everything you do or endure, no matter how tragic or spectacular, should be fueled by truth and joy. And that you need to care a whole hell of a lot to matter enough to transcend time. It’s not difficult, you just have to believe you have something special and incredible to share with the world. And that special thing is your truth and your being. Go hug your people and remind them that you love them. Bangarang.