A creative genius, comedic master, and tender hearted story teller has died. As we grieve Robin Williams' passing, character quotes and clips are circulating the web. Among them one seems to sum it up best in my estimation.
"It's all part and parcel of the whole genie gig: phenomenal cosmic powers, itty bitty living space."
(Genie of the Lamp, Aladdin)
I'm generalizing here, but I've found extreme pain in most creative hearts. Mine included. Often times leading actors, dancers, musicians and visual artists to alchohol and drug abuse, and mental instability. Like there's all this electricity and emotion, traveling up the wire to our heights, then plummeting back down to the depths. Feelings that could fill a valley wide, contained in the itty bitty living space of a flesh and blood person. All pushing to be expressed.
Too much glory and too much pain, and too many characters that fill our beings and walk around in our skin. Sculptures to be crafted, memoirs to be written, and that spoken word piece that rolls around in my head just begging to come undone.
We long to carpe diem, seize the day!
But often find the day seizing our hearts
and overwhelming our souls.
So we laugh louder and cry convulsing sobs, and a stream of funny flies from our mouths like a standup routine, but it's no routine, it's just us.
From the time I was very young I felt a little crazy, like there was too much feeling to fit inside little me. The depths were too deep, so I wrote poetry by nine and my first screenplay by 16. Neither published nor produced, I'm not seeking achelades or recognition, just recognizing Creative Me, as I mourn Creative Him. Because in his large persona he represented us all - all who live inspired all the time, all who feel too much to be normal.
Then it dawned on me, one night after curtain call, when my Dad came back stage. He's an engineer and I'm an actress, but when he found me his eyes were rimmed with red. He'd been crying. My dad, who draws a graph to communicate emotion, cried during our production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town. And there I was in full costume and make-up with this epiphany:
God made me this way for the benefit of others!
For my Dad who doesn't go to the depths, I could bring him. For the masses who needed to be taken higher, Robin Williams soared!
Today Williams' wife released her message of grief to the populace by asking us not to focus on her husband's death, but on his life and the laughter he brought to us all.
As Mork, Mrs. Doubfire, our beloved Captain in Dead Poets Society, and the sensitive therapist affirming our imperfections in Good Will Hunting. "Good Morning Vietnam..." And always Peter Pan and Popeye to my children. The Fischer King for me. And every interview that couldn't contain him! Couldn't contain his phenomenal cosmic powers, in an itty bitty living space.
"A human life is just a heartbeat in heaven."
(Chris Nielsen, What Dreams May Come)
So today we celebrate a creative life, gone in an instant, and pay tribute to all the rest who suffer behind the tragic and comedic masks of their trade. And we pray for the hearts and minds of entertainers and sensitive creatives who are sojourning to the depths of despair these days. "Gather dust", I charge you, then come back up to share it from the stage and the page, from the canvas and the screen. For God created you for marvelous purposes and good works. So pull yourself up, breathe in another breath, and commit to living today.
God made you this way, singers and songwriters;
God made you this way, graphic designers and photographers;
God made you utterly creative, emotional and raw,
Perfectly marvelous, right now affirmed and celebrated, You!
Carpe Diem and Carpe Life, and Nanu Nanu, over and out!