The brilliant comedian’s suicide has hit a deep nerve for us. Perhaps one reason why is because of his courageous vulnerability in the world. He was so exposing in his humor, life, and performances that his humanity and risk-taking could be breathtaking. On stage and in life, he broke the unspoken agreement to act put together, smart and sane.
I don’t want to leave him alone on that stage. We too often do life at each other, not with each other. That needs to change if we want to be a salve for the pain and suffering that is a part of life. How about getting on stage with him as a way to honor and give back what he gave to the world. Better yet, invite him to get off stage with us: practice vulnerability in our normal, unfunny, everyday lives together. We can be raw, however that looks.
We are not served well by focusing solely on Williams’s so-called ‘disease of depression’. The over use and overly simplified medical model, where people have a disease inside of them, skews the actuality that the disease is in our world:
we are alienated from one another and do not have the skills to maneuver through the messy, scary, confusing activity called life together.
The outcry is ‘let’s make sure there are suicide prevention hotlines open for everyone’. That focus, albeit understandable, is uncreative and safe – which is the opposite of how Williams gave to us. How about a ‘living life together’ hotline to fight alienation and isolation? Or, better yet, a ‘laugh hotline’ where we can call in when feeling suicidal to create jokes with one another.
We can create opportunity to be more engaged with one another moment to moment. Let’s not reduce Robin William’s life to this one act. Let’s help him/his memory, and do life, laughing, intense pain, etc, us together.
He gave an incredible amount. Let’s do the same.
“You only grow by coming to the end of something and by beginning something else.”
― John Irving, The World According to Gap