The tragic death of Robin Williams is beginning to be talked out and the comments are becoming redundant. But the untimely passing of this great artist by his own hand bring to mind some thoughts that I think are worth sharing.
I won’t pretend that Robin Williams was my favorite actor of all time or that he changed my life or that he was my best friend twice removed. Such presumption is unseemly and an affront to the memory of a great man. What I will reflect upon is that Mr. Williams was a one of a kind artist; the kind with genius, generosity and heart. These qualities are rare in anyone and Robin had them in spades.
I read a post on Instagram where some armchair Dr. Phil called his suicide selfish. Such a comment belies an ignorance and an arrogance that I find intolerable. To berate and belittle someone’s suffering is beyond reprehension. Besides, what could Mr. Williams have possibly gained by taking his own life other than an end to the pain that had plagued him for years and was well and publicly documented?
It is a shame that it takes the demise of a cultural icon to call attention to our need to slow down and disconnect from our devices long enough to hear the cries of someone in need. In a world that now fits conveniently into the palms of our hands, a world in which we have instant access to practically all of the recorded knowledge of our species, we often fail to listen to the voice of the person next to us. And in failing to listen, we fail to hear. And in failing to hear we fail to learn. And in failing to learn we fail to act. And in failing to act, we simply fail.
Today, I don’t just mourn the loss of a great talent and a great humanitarian. I mourn our collective loss of real connectivity, that connection that exists only in the personal and analog bond between one human being and another.
In the film One Hour Photo Robin William’s character soliloquizes about the wonder of a single photograph, about the underlying message that accompanies a person’s desire to aim a camera at another person and make a record of his existence. Years later, those millions of anonymous pictures, whether they appear in a box at a flea market, on a funny greeting card, or in a museum, say one thing. They say “Look at me, I was here, and for at least one moment in time, someone loved me enough to take my picture.”
Thank God that we loved Robin Williams enough to take his picture over, and over and over again.