Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Embracing the Void

I wish I were writing anything other than a RIP post for Robin Williams.

It feels like being plunged into the abyss of grief, again, and I didn't even know this man.

I saw him once ... he came out of his house to cheer on the runners in San Francisco when we were running the first NIKE Women's half marathon many years ago.

Apparently he was just like that ... it had been a bleak run in terms of fans.  We had stared down many unhappy drivers.  We were thankful for the many police officers holding those drivers, gunning their engines, while we ran through intersection after intersection.  In the park, the only people there cheering runners on were Team-In-Training folks -- and the pointedly only cheered on those in purple. [Turned me off of TIT forever - for ever].

Then we ran through that fancy house neighborhood, and who should emerge but one of its famous residents ... just to cheer us on.
I already loved me some Robin Williams -- we go way back. I think Mork and Mindy was my favorite contemporary show.  I forget how many movies he was in  ... and how many of them I loved.  The LA Times collected some here

I would like to understand why this death is hitting (me and others) so hard ... but I have heard and read so many posts about how could someone who could bring so much joy to others be living in such a dark place.

I will let you read all the links for the appraisal of his comedic and other acting genius.

I find the tear in the fabric of our world with the loss of this man ... for deeper, more personal reasons.

In the interstices of the stories on Robin Williams is the story of his inner life -- they call it depression.  The contours of the emotions they describe, however, reveal much more.  There is definitely loneliness, hidden beneath mania.  There is sadness, in the sense, that on the outside, it all seemed fine, better than fine.  On the inside, there was pain unshared.

When you are in introvert in an extrovert's world you have choices.  Many choose "shy" which if you know me, you know that I don't believe in it.  Others choose to be "on" in public and try to find time to decompress.

But, the hardest part for those of us who choose "on" instead of "shy" is that people do not see us.  They see the "on" persona.  They assume that we are okay instead of asking ... they don't understand when we take things hard or seemingly are too sensitive because we have always seemed so "happy" or "on top of it" or "strong."

All of these labels mask the softer, more vulnerable side, often to our own detriment.  And we tend to be able to feel all the hurts of those around us -- more tuned in because we know what that pain feels like and looks like even when it isn't being expressed.

I imagine that is what made Mr. Williams so compassionate to others, and so willing to make someone else's day rather than to ask for help.

Robin Williams, in his own words, on his acting:
"The other tendency is for me to be too vulnerable, where the director has to say, 'OK, that's a little bit too much,' and find something that allows the audience to experience it but without gasping for air."
Please remember to hear more than what others say, and see more than what others show... give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and really care when you ask, "how are you?"  The many sensitive souls in this world need to know you really want to hear the answer to that question.

And consider that this moment of pain is just one moment, and others will follow, some not filled with pain.

May Robin Williams rest in peace -- no longer do you need to entertain ... find peace, find rest.  May his family join together in love as they remember this man who brought so much to so many.

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