“That we live in a world that has become so negligent of human values that our brightest lights are extinguishing themselves? That we must be more vigilant, more aware, more grateful, more mindful? That we can’t tarnish this tiny slice of awareness that we share on this sphere amidst the infinite blackness with conflict and hate?
That we must reach inward and outward to the light that is inside all of us? That all around us people are suffering behind masks less interesting than the one Robin Williams wore? Do you have time to tune in to Fox News, to cement your angry views to calcify the certain misery?
I might be nice to people, mindful today how fragile we all are, how delicate we are, even when fizzing with divine madness that seems like it will never expire.”
Russell Brand on Robin Williams for The Guardian, 8.12.14
Since news first appeared on 8.11 that the great Robin Williams had taken his own life, a vast collective of shocked and grieved fans took to the social media sites and more to express their grief. Dignity seems to have escaped some. I can only single out the nefarious TMZ, posting its hateful brand of sensationalism without a care to those Williams leaves behind. But I can only choose to champion those understanding the importance of respect at this time, which is why Russell Brand’s beautifully composed remembrance opens this new entry to the Confessions blog.
Despite the complexity wrought by the act of suicide, I find myself pondering the obvious question as to why Williams opted to silence himself. How deep had he fallen into that well of despair that many artists of his striking creativity also choose to inhabit? He is not alone in succumbing to demons so great they obliterate all common sense — and the desire to live.
The concussion many of us felt since news broke of his death is proof that his was a life worth appreciating because he brought so much joy to so many. What could we have done to let him know we, a massive community of strangers, cared so much? What could we have said to let him know his place in this world was necessary because he made our own demons seem less monstrous? We will never know the answer as to why he chose this manner of exit. And, the endless feed of conjecture over the autopsy facts only creates an unsettling portrait on how our culture is feeding on our weaknesses and all-too human fragility.
We spend so much time discussing how our modern culture is designed to destroy us these days. The fast pace. The endless networks designed to showcase our growing narcissism. The media’s role in creating false realities. The absurdity of caring how we are perceived by strangers. The overwhelming anxiety unleashed in a society facing too much choice. Yet, we still allow ourselves to lose a little bit of our humanity with every bilious show of contempt for decency, restraint and compassion towards each other.
I find it all so ironic since I firmly believe we all carry various forms of addictions. From drug, alcohol and food abuse to exhibiting unflagging levels of ambition to show ourselves off as the most beautiful, most successful or most powerful being on Earth.
But we aren’t.
We are small in the scope of the universe, beings merely paying rent on a planet struggling under the collective weight of careless egos.
I haven’t felt the need to write a word since coming home from Salamanca. It took a mere 10 minutes at JFK during my transfer home to feel that overwhelming feeling of anxiety again, which had been missing in me for weeks. Worse, it took only a week to feel that fucking sense of irrelevance and invisibility again. It is nearly 3 weeks since coming home and I recognize the familiar signs of a tailspin again.
I don’t want to call it a “depression” in light of today’s post. I have no right to compare my own state to what Williams had endured. But that sense of futility is one I’ve courted one too many times and it terrifies me. It lulls you into a sense of complacency so strong, it seems like the most potent narcotic. Its effects are swift and dangerously romantic. You feel light as a feather, on par with that moment you recognize you’ve fallen in love. But it is obviously the opposite of love; it is a courtship with despair that is accompanied by dire consequences.
Like many people, I will continue to process the ramifications of Williams’ death. I am not the only one who wants an answer, too. How can someone like him just give up on us all, give up on his family, give up on himself?
If we are being overwhelmed by this culture of excess choice, then we must promote options of Choosing Life. Earlier today, actor Craig Bierko commented that if people suffer from depression, they have every right to seek medical attention for a sickness, “not a character flaw.” He’s right. It isn’t “cowardice” or a “flaw” to feel hopeless. We have always faced challenging times as a species. But now, more than ever, we really need to learn how to listen to each other. We need to stop preying on and/or judging each other for sport or entertainment. We need to not be afraid to say “stay here” to those who want to leave for reasons we can’t fathom or understand. But before anyone else will believe it, we have to believe it ourselves. You have to believe that your place in the world matters. You have to believe it is worth “staying here.”
I have to believe, too.
“You are only given one little spark of madness. You musn’t lose it.”
— Robin Williams
#stayhere #lifeisart #robinwilliamsporvida
**Tuesday, August 12 @ Wayne Avenue Manor in South Pasadena, CA.