About This Blog

As time permits, in-depth musings on myriad subjects will be posted. Abbreviated adages will be announced via Twitter.

Monday, August 11, 2014


Tonight, at open house for The Boy at his daycare, I was alerted to the to-be-confirmed news that actor, comedian, cyclist, and wonderful human being Robin Williams had died. It was a momentary distraction from the ordinary. And, perhaps, that's exactly why I am having such a difficult time processing the death of this man.

At the time of my writing this, social media & media outlets alike are abuzz with news & tributes to Mr. Williams. Me, I've withheld from posting anything beyond tweeting this clip from Disney's Aladdin:

While I did enjoy Aladdin—and many of Williams's other comedic efforts—it was his dramatic roles that really resonated with me. Williams's character of John Keating in 1989's Dead Poets Society served as not only motivation to get me through high school but also as what a teacher could & should be to his students. I have attempted to model my own teaching practices and approach to curriculum in a similar fashion—and I told him as much when we met at the expo for the Lance Armstrong Foundation's Ride for the Roses (now known as the LiveStrong Cycling Challenge). He was kind enough to sign a DVD of DPS and pose for a picture.

Whatever the cause of death (most reports mention suicide) is irrelevant. A candle has been extinguished, leaving only its wispy smoke in the form of memories millions have of Williams's myriad performances, which spanned the whole of human emotion over the course of decades.

The earliest role in which I can remember Williams was that of wayward alien Mork from the television series Mork & Mindy. At the conclusion of each episode of the show, Mork would muse with off-screen presence & fellow alien Orson of the oddities observed in human existence. Of the "tributes" making the rounds on social media tonight cites one such exchange:

Because I was barely a kindergardener when the show aired, I cannot vouch for its authenticity, but such is of little importance. What is of import is its substance—aye, there's the rub—to not spend quite so much time looking out for number one; rather, keep an out on numbers two on down. Don't doom yourself to a life of loneliness. But don't just talk to others; talk with them. Speak. Listen. Learn. Live.

One of the more visually delicious films in which Williams starred was 1998's What Dreams May Come, a film, tragically ironic enough, which focused on the loss of loved ones, including through suicide. The title of the film stems from the famous "To Be or Not to Be" speech from Act 3, Scene 1 of Hamlet. A larger excerpt of that speech is with what I will close:
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
Thanks for reading.

No comments: