I’m pretty sure I don’t have anything profound to say about the death of Robin Williams that won’t end up sounding needlessly platitudinous. But I feel, as I suspect many do, that I miss him. It’s amazing to have such vivid memories of someone you’ve never met, you know? My chief memories of Robin Williams come via Dead Poets Society.
The summer the movie came out, I was working at an 8-week day camp in Rhode Island where I spent the next five summers. It was the first summer I really had any autonomy in my social life, and some of my fellow camp counselors and I went to see the film. It is probably not entirely appropriate, given the content of the movie, to describe it as having blown my mind, but it did, and opened a kind of a door in my head so that my mind could be subsequently blown a few more times by works of literature I read during the ensuing school year (works like The Brothers Karamazov, The Great Gatsby, and Til We Have Faces).
That school year, my final year at my Small Christian High School, began with a Convocation service, at which one of my classmates and I each had been asked to give a short speech. I talked about carpe diem and what I thought it could mean for a bunch of Christian high school students to seize the day. I wasn’t very imaginative in my suggestions, but I suspect that, as is often the case with me, the thoughts and feelings that movie had triggered were still percolating, and I was only just learning to think more deeply and broadly about such things, thanks in part to Robin Williams, and also to my real English teacher that year who furthered that stage of the process. I concluded my Convocation speech by saying,
It’s never too early to seize the day, though someday it may be too late. Christian musician, Randy Stonehill, has a song that says, I’m gonna celebrate this heartbeat/ ‘Cause it may just be my last./ Every day is a gift from the Lord on high/ And they all go by so fast. So let’s seize all the days for God that we can, while we can.
I’m sorry that Mr Williams didn’t think he could bear to seize another day. But I guess maybe we could celebrate his heartbeats for him, for a little while. So . . . favourite Robin Williams movie/show and why.