Last Tuesday I had decided to unplug from television and social media for a couple of days. The headlines out of Palestine, Iraq, Ukraine and Ferguson, Mo. were beginning to warp my mind of all things holy. After an afternoon of reading, I was ready to hop into the bathroom for a quick hair washing before a quiet evening of writing, when I noticed my mom in the hallway staring blankly at me.
“Robin Williams just killed himself,” she said with desperation.
Another beautiful soul is lost to those internal demons of despair.
I said nothing, bottled up my emotions and continued my evening of light grooming. By 7 PM I decided I could watch “Brian” (otherwise referred to as the NBC Nightly News)… He has a special way of easing any undue angst. Yet, there was no report. Word had not spread in time for the newscast. I then decided to bide my time with the mundane until Dave came on at 10:35… but, again, no dice. Letterman was airing a week of reruns.
Refusing to grab any gadget linking me to the online world, I searched On Demand and Apple TV for any of my favorite Robin Williams flicks… and, once more, I came up short. I was starting to feel defeated before questioning the potential absurdity of my entire evening.
Why do these “celebrity deaths” continue to penetrate my soul? And why was this one rendering myself incapable of completing any necessary tasks?
Lying in bed pondering life’s peculiarities, lightning struck my brain: “His birthday,” I said aloud. On Monday, July 21, 1980, Robin Williams celebrated his 29th birthday. At 9:30 that morning, I came into the world.
Those who know me are accepting of my mild obsession with astrology. I certainly do not live my life in direct accordance to such scriptures; but I am acutely aware of the energy bestowed upon those open to its charges. I never met Williams, or even saw him in the third dimension; but we shared a connection… Regardless of how minute it may have been.
For those of us born on the 21st day of July – Ernest Hemingway, Marshall McLuhan, Don Knotts to name a few – synchronicity is our primary law of nature. We harbor an ooey gooey love monster deep inside ourselves who takes cognitive control when our emotions jump the tracks. Like cars on a cable, a single pebble can throw us off course hurling our minds into a clusterfuck of incomplete thoughts. As Cancers, we spend a lifetime erecting impenetrable shells of protection. We revel in our bad ass, take-no-prisoners modi operandi… Until someone or something comes along and cracks us open causing tenderness to pour out like molten rock.
The lucky chink in Williams’ carefully crafted suit of armor was his insatiable hunger to perform. He was brave enough to shed his outer layer exposing his passion and vulnerability to the world. Time and again, his characters would dare us to examine all sides of the human condition by giving us the necessary tools to dissect the connectivity of our pathos. Williams had the power to set us sailing with his comedic prowess before harnessing us to the soil with his dramatic gravitas.
He challenges our spirit in Awakenings. He expands our capacity to dream in Dead Poets Society. He pierces our hearts in Good Will Hunting. He soothes the perils of war in Good Morning, Vietnam. He grants us wonder in What Dreams May Come. He sets us free in Aladdin.
When Williams visited the late-night talk show circuit or blessed us with a standup special, we felt a gravitational pull into his mesmerizing world. His flamboyant gestures and hypnotic array of voices gave us a glimpse into the psyche of a genius.
We only had him for 63 years, but he never failed to suspend our disbelief. Whether our connection to him is cosmic or otherwise, we all benefited from the magical powers hidden deep within him.