R.I.P. Robin Williams | July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014
What do you say when an immeasurable talent and personality like Robin Williams leaves us? How do you begin, knowing that no words will convey your thoughts properly?
I don’t even know.
Which is why my tribute to him will take place in the form of a letter to my children, offering them advice about life, and hopefully paying respect to a man who lived it on his own terms, in the process.
I can not remember a time in my life that I wasn’t watching Robin Williams in something. His brilliance always on display, always captivating, dominating every scene. Whether he had a script or was given free reign, the results were identical. He was one of the few celebrities I wanted to meet (excluding Hollywood crushes), primarily because I always felt he would be exactly the same on screen as off. A ball of energetic fun. Could you even imagine what lunch would be like with Mrs. Doubtfire/ Genie/ Adrian Cronauer/ Sean Maguire/ Rainbow Randolph/ Robin Williams at the same time? I can, and it’s brilliant.
As I thought about what his loss meant to movies and to me as a moviegoer I became emotional. I normally don’t feel connected to celebrities and when they pass, sure, it’s sad but it doesn’t really hit me that hard. For some reason this loss did. Maybe it was that I identify with him on some personal levels – fascination with my kids, creative, ongoing battle with depression – or maybe that so many of the roles he played struck a chord with me. And unlike some actors, he put himself into every role. So I guess I do know him, in a way, or ways, and in that regard I feel like I’ve lost a friend I haven’t seen in years and now I’m sad because we won’t be able to get together again and catch up; something we never did in the first place.
I could continue to ramble on, and there really isn’t a good way to segue into what I want to say next, but I don’t care.
I love you both. I love watching you grow and change. I love sharing with you and helping you and seeing what you like and dislike and how it compares to my likes and dislikes. I love seeing you become, you.
As you grow, the world will tell you to graduate high school, go to college, get a job you may or may not like and work 40 hours a week for the rest of your lives. I’m telling you now to tell the world to stuff it.
Girls, there aren’t a lot of things that I want you to know, that I find important enough to document for posterity, so read carefully.
I want you to graduate high school, prepare a backup plan, and then chase your dreams until your legs can’t carry you anymore. Then chase them a little bit further.
Yes, it is important for you to graduate high school. No, I don’t think college is essential, especially not today, unless you want to be a doctor, lawyer or professor. If you don’t then get a 2 year degree, or a certification. Do some research and find a career path that you can fall back on and lay the groundwork. Get a dental hygienist certification, or one for x-ray, pharm or surgical tech. Live home long enough to get that under your feet with few to no bills. Then find your dream and go get it.
There will come a time, when you are 38 years old, you are scraping by, and sit thinking how if you had chased your dream 20 years ago you would have caught it by now. You will look back thinking of all the things you sacrificed your dreams for and odds are you won’t regret them, but you will wonder if it is too late.
Chase your dreams while you are youthful, exuberant and too stubborn to quit. Chase them while you don’t have to be stable and provide for anyone else. Chase them while it doesn’t matter if you have to skip a few meals or take the bus a few days because you don’t have gas money. Chase them while you are young enough to laugh at doubters, throw a middle finger up to expectations and rules, and go for it while you are young enough not to have started doubting yourself. Chase them while you are young enough that if you catch them, and they aren’t all you hoped they’d be, you have time to start over and do it again. Or, if having reached your dream you decide to give up the chase, you can fall back on the groundwork you laid for yourself.
This life is short. So very short. Do not waste it counting the hours until your lunch break, and then again ’til it’s time to go home. Find something you love. And someone you love. And enjoy this roller coaster. It can be fun, but it is fast and it will be over before you know it. Especially if you spend all your time being practical, not daring to reach for the stars. You will never grasp that which you do not reach for.
I love you both so very much.
PS – I hope you find something in the following advice from a few of his roles:
PPS – It really hit me hard when I saw the following image:
I couldn’t agree more with both of them.