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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Laughter Pauses: Reflections on Robin Williams and Suicide

by Tom Pappas

I would be pleased to write something profound, and as yet unsaid, about the loss of comedic talent Robin Williams. This will not happen.

When I reflect on my exposure to Mr. Williams over many years, it will be like everyone else in his audiences. I have known him about the length of a movie here, the time it takes to watch a sitcom there, a talk show interview from time to time. One of the reasons I, the Alpha introvert, admired him was his relentless unfiltered imagination. Didn’t he love to perform? Didn’t he love to be ‘on’?

From the dusty files of my mid 20th century formative years I remember clearly this aphorism. “You are who you are when you’re by yourself.” There are moments when my solitary, tinkering, bumbling self doesn’t resemble who I present to the public, and never will; but all in all, being me is pretty fun.

It must be that Robin Williams had excruciating trouble when he wasn’t guy in the spotlight with the mike. I wonder if this source of fun for millions stopped being fun to his own self?  As a person with personal experience with three generations of mental/emotional illness, I can conjecture some impossibly difficult stretches, long, dark nights and endless, deep heartaches. How sad, how hard.

It must be excruciating to make an end of life decision that would effect so many.  A poster comes to mind along this line, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Life sometimes disappoints.

I think God wants me to be kind to others .  .  . to energetically work for improved mental health services .   .   . to love and respect myself as I have been made in God’s image .  .  . to laugh more often and more easily.

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