Some thoughts about Robin Williams

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It’s interesting to see what bubbles to the surface when unexpected things happen in the world. You are sitting there at the end of the season, looking at the sand on the beach after a storm has come through in the night – and there are the tips of some toys sticking up that some families have already forgotten about, that important part of the umbrella that makes it work, a wubby that was stolen from a stroller by the winds, a necklace whose shine has been dulled by the coarse grit of the sand, bits and pieces of left-over life. Things as memories that are there – but that aren’t there …

Then – the focus shifts to reactions and to how other people react to those reactions. People get sad about the storm for a thousand different reasons. People are angry that people aren’t reacting in ways that are deemed as proper by rules that they are establishing on the fly to help them channel how they are feeling. They get angry because they don’t know what they are feeling, don’t know how to express how they are feeling. People make it about themselves to try to establish a touchstone of understanding – to prove that they know how people of affected by the storm feel … Raising their hand in the process to say that ‘they hurt too’ – because they don’t want their pain to get lost in the chatter. People make light of the event – because that is probably how they deal with things … People cope how they cope – and now – it all happens in real-time on social networks. There is no grieving, or processing – there is just reaction – which leads to reaction of initial reaction and on and on. The snake nibbles on it’s tail, lines are drawn in the sand, camps of thought and reaction are established. People move on to the next storm in the night.

I wanted to write about Robin Williams – but – am having a hard time coming to terms with my thoughts and feels. I enjoyed his work, his energy, and his presence – but am not sure if he was an influence. And – that isn’t to discredit him at all – I just can’t think of any bits or specifics. But, in the end, I think that it is important to point out that people are so much more than ‘bits and specifics’ … That stuff is just window dressing and minutia … It’s the person, to me, that’s important.

I have a hard time when people ask me the question of who has influenced my stand-up, because I think that the world influences me – my life and experiences influence me – my brain influences me. Beyond that, the holes in my colander are too big to grab specific things. I’ve heard people call him a ‘force of nature’ – and can relate to and appreciate the off-the-cuff madcap bedlam that he brought. I’m just not sure. All I do know is that he was a man, a father, that he brought a lot of joy to a lot of people, and that he carried sadness. I also know that my eyes have been burning since I found out that he died.

When things happen in the world like the death of Robin Williams, Facebook becomes this maelstrom of posts, likes, comments, and profile pictures changing – it’s something that didn’t exist a few years ago. It is immediate, it is raw, and it is as real as can be expected. I sat in my driveway, in my car for a long time,  just reading and refreshing last night, riding little waves of emotions up and down. Trying to figure out where my brain was with everything in the world. It was comforting to read all of the different angles that people were coming from – even if I didn’t agree with them all of the time … I was fine with that – because I don’t expect people to react the same way that I do to the world. A lot of times, I simply don’t know how to react to things. So I watch, and read, and let my emotions do whatever it is that they are going to do. I get teary, sometimes (this has become more frequent since I had kids).

People sometimes say that comedians have a darkness about them  – or even cooler, that they have demons … But, people in general have some demony darkness somewhere in them, somewhere. It would seem, to me, to be impossible to make it through the world without anything bad happening. It’s just how you deal with the darkness that matters – it’s kind of one of the main things that matters. Do you push it down so that it can explode at some point? Maybe take medication for it, or talk to someone about it? Do you use it as a weapon and take your darkness out on other people? Or, do you just ‘deal with it’ (Whatever that means)? Comedians are just people in the end … People who get on stage with their hearts on their sleeves who are potentially coping with their darkness by poking fun at the foibles of the world around them. Or, maybe, they just want to make people laugh … Maybe that’s it. Sometimes – the simple answer is the right answer … Things don’t always need to be made to be overcomplicated.

As a quick aside, last night, I had just arrived in an alley to get headshots with my pals. They had already been there for about twenty minutes and were wrapping up with their first set of pictures – so – it was my turn. We were setting up, and the photographer was about to take her first shot, when someone from the studio ran up and said “Hey, did you guys hear that Robin Willams died?” … I can’t wait to see the first few photos … I was quite watery. Timing is everything.

Mental illness is no joke. If your wires are crossed, or your chemicals are not balanced, do something about it. Go to a doctor. Take your medication. Talk to someone. Realize that you are part of the world and no one wants to see you fail because you decided that you were starting to feel better and would start to self-medicate. Realize that you have to take care of yourself and that no one is out to get you. People can’t force you to take care of yourself and that you not taking care of yourself doesn’t just affect you – it affects the world around you. And, suicide is just miserable … all that you leave behind are questions and emptiness.

I’m not trying to be obtuse, but I’m pretty sure that I’m being obtuse. I’ve got no answers, here … Just some words that were in my head that I typed up, half-baked in an attempt to capture the confusion and fumbling that I stumbled upon while careening towards the gestalt. It is tough to express a range of emotions … It is tough to pull one clean piece of yarn from a knotted up ball of yarn. Today is a tough nut. The metaphorical storm blew all of my metaphorical sand all over the place … and, I’m still trying to find all of my toys.

One thing that I can be sure of is that you should try to find the happy in the world. Actively seek it out. Sometimes, it isn’t obvious or easy to get to – but – it’s important. Even when everything is miserable and the world feels like it just won’t stop kicking you … try to take a deep breath and find a sliver of light. If you can’t find it by yourself, talk to someone. You are never alone in the world … At the very least, you’ve got yourself – and – you’re great.

Yes, you are.

Now, go be nice to someone – because everyone is always going through something, all of the time, things are happening. Pick that wubby up and put it back on the stroller – because someone is definitely going to miss it. Make the world better for other people – and – it’ll be better for you. I promise.

Hugs and hearts, friends … Hugs – and – hearts.

Natty Bumpercar
Natty Bumpercar is a comedian, podcaster, animator who hails from the wonderfully imaginary land of Coffee-Can Alley where ghosts sit with flowers, mice play with whales, and kittens poke fun in a vain effort to level the playing field. He is a self-professed “big fan of making all kinds of stuff” who rarely puts forth any kind of an idea about anything without first running it by his live-in band of malcontents Irving Brown Socks, Spot Elliot, and Peanut Lou.
Natty Bumpercar
Natty Bumpercar
Natty Bumpercar

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