I was told I had a heart of stone today. It was just after breakfast and we were running late to get to the train for an appointment. The subject had come up about Robin Williams. It was really sad, I was told, that he had died…especially as it seemed to be a case of suicide. He had been an ever present in my conscious life. He had always entertained and made me laugh. I said that I didn’t think it was unduly sad. Someone died, but I didn’t truly know him. Why should I feel something for Robin Williams?
My first instinct is to say that I was being devil’s advocate. It was early and I was late and rushing around. I had no time for feeling for some Hollywood super star who decided to end it all. Big deal. When there was an outpouring of emotion in his general direction, I merely took the opposite view as quickly as possible…just to be different. That, though, is the way a complete asshole operates. And I am not a complete asshole.
My second thoughts are that I had perspective. No matter how tragic Robin Williams’ death is or was, it pales into the ether of nothingness when you bear in mind the atrocious attacks on human life all around the globe right now. There are inhumane wars being waged right this very second, as we click, like and share another glib meme with some quirky quote from our favourite man from Mork and Mindy. Is that perspective? Is that having a bigger picture in mind? Or is that being an asshole?
My third thoughts come closer to the bone. The reason I dismissed this warm moment of respect for a great actor and comedian who had just died, is because it reminded me of what was only ever one drink away. Robin Williams was an alcoholic and former drug addict. Like Phillip Seymour Hoffman he was winning his day to day battle with his dark side. But like millions of recovering addicts around the world, he slipped and fell off the sober wagon. Robin Williams fell hard after 20 years in sobriety. That slippery slope started again with one drink…
I think what Robin Williams showed me today is that no matter what your status in life, your daemons are your daemons. If you let them get to you and if your addictions are running rampant, then it can all seem too much. No matter what your status, your level of financial security or how much love you are given…all that pales into an insignificant nothing when faced with the voices in your head.
I have been there. I have heard those voices…the paranoid self loathing psychosis chatter which can set in. I have listened to them words when I was drunk or stoned or wired. I have heard them and luckily enough I have been able to walk away. I have been almost 5 years sober. But it means nothing. Because the reality is that I am just sober for one more day. That is all. There is no more and no less. Robin Williams has reminded me today to take each day with the grace that the Gods/Universe/Creator/Scientists/Whoever intended.
Life is short. I fucking say it all the time. Robin Williams was alive yesterday. Now he is dead. He was a man who I LOVED in Mork and Mindy, Dead Poets Society and throughout his incredible stand up career. He had that insanity which I try to take into every hour of my life. It is the spark of madness and devilment which brought decades of enjoyment to the people of the world. So I apologise to your memory Robin Williams, for not showing respect for your passing earlier today.
You just reminded me that we are all fragile and never truly safe.