I watched “Dead Poet’s Society”!

I know, I know….how could I have never seen this movie before?!

I’m not sure. I saw a scene from it last year when one of my professors, Larry, played the scene where they’re ripping all of the pages out of their “Intro to Poetry” books. What an inspiring scene for n00b teachers, no?!

I think that I’ve always wanted to watch the movie – one of those movies that you’re “supposed” to see – but I just never made myself sit down and watch it. This week it only seemed right.

I’m not one to get overly sentimental when it comes to celebrities. Lauren Bacall, for example – when I heard about her death, I paused for a second, remembering her story from her autobiography that I read years ago (my grandmother was obsessed with the stars from the 40s…I’ve read the autobiographies of Ava Gardner and Lauren Bacall, and biographies of other stars like Grace Kelly). I gave her a moment of reflection, wished peace for her loved ones, and continued about my day.

But Robin Williams was different, and I think the news of his death may have affected a lot of you more than other celebrity deaths, too. I’m not sure exactly what makes his death give us more pause, and I think that it’s a multitude of reasons, not just one that can be pinpointed. The ridiculous amount of energy he had, his jokes, the topics he talked about in his comedy routines (not mean-spirited like some comics – just funny observations, ideas, sketches), and perhaps maybe the incredible span and depth of roles that he played. “What Dreams May Come,” “Good Will Hunting,” “Patch Adams”…some of the scenes from those movies will just touch your heart in places you never knew existed.

As more news breaks of the circumstances surrounding his death come out – the depression, the Parkinson’s, the hanging, the superficial wounds on his arms – how hellacious his last few hours must have been. I found myself more than a few times pausing and forcing my empathy to stop flowing before I might have begun to sunk myself.

I heard more than a few times from people “How could someone so funny be so depressed?” As I think back to my own hell that I somehow lived through 10 years ago – touch the physical scars that remain, remember the weight of the invisible blanket that surrounded me, reminisce on the hardest work I’ve ever done to claw my way out of that blackness, I remember that it can happen to anyone, no matter your disposition, circumstances, or outlook on life. And to think that it’s still possible for any of us to succumb to the same shitiness…the same blackness, darkness, the weight….there but for the grace of God go I. No judgments, friends. Ever. We just need more love.

If it’s happening to you, the only thing that will help you is to make the first step and reach out. The only thing that will kill that darkness is first the thought that you’re not alone, which gradually turns into the feeling that you’re not alone. When you can feel that you’re surrounded by care/love/friendship…that hope exists, that light suddenly appears at the end of the tunnel, even if it’s the smallest little crack that you could ever imagine. If it’s happening to you, please reach out.

Who knows what extinguished Williams’ hope, but whatever it was must have been heartbreaking. We saw that happen to that particular character in the Dead Poet’s Society (I don’t want to ruin it in case some readers haven’t seen it yet). But you could see the hope die in his eyes during that memorable scene. No hope….nothing to live for. Done.

How very fitting to watch this movie this week; the parallels are rather extraordinary. May he be in some kind of peace, and may we never forget the depth of his roles and how he made us feel – the highs of his highs and lows of his lows. It’s the feeling of both that make you feel so alive, and he could portray both, brilliantly.

robin williams

Other notable firsts:

* I had never eaten at “somewhere in time” which is the sister restaurant of “when pigs fly.” It had the same menu!!! Hooray!!!

* I had never watched the TV show “Brooklyn Taxi” it was terrible, yet I couldn’t stop watching it.

* I had never seen an Arkansas license plate (the natural state?? what the….)

* I had never seen people hanging out on what I consider to be the house with the best porch in town. It overlooks the backwaters and has a red barn and I always thought it was beautiful. It made me so happy to see people taking in the beauty when I drove by the house one day this past week.

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