People today, a few hours after his death at the age of 63, remember Mr. Williams more for his characters than for his personal life and daily accomplishments. But he was not his characters. He was not a naive alien who fell in love with the girl next door. He did not teach poetry to college boys. His name was not Patch (I've seen the real Patch Adams, and Robin Williams was nothing like him.).
He didn't get stronger after eating spinach. He didn't fly and fight pirates. He never snuck back into his ex-wife's house, posing as the nanny. He didn't invent Flubber (Fred McMurray did!), and he was not Teddy Roosevelt (Teddy Roosevelt was.).
It is not lost on me that he played a boy who got himself stuck in a game board for many years and a genie who was confined to the itty bitty living place of an oil lamp for thousands of years. Of all of the characters Mr. Williams played on screen, these might have been more like the real Robin than he would have admitted. Like many among us, Robin Williams was depressed - not trapped in small confines or stuck in an alternative world, but restricted by his own vices and caught up in his own feelings. While on the outside, Mr. Williams could not be limited to a script, in his mind, like so many of us, he could never shake his "dependence" on stimulants and depressants. Likewise, he seemingly could not relinquish thoughts about sex or cursing.
I suppose Robin Williams is just one more casualty one a multifaceted war that shoots at us from all angles with a great variety of weaponry. It is a war that all men and women fight. A war against morality. A war against self image. A war that strips good people of dignity and cognizance. A war that lures us into the darkness of sin and anger. The bodies lie around our feet with wounds inflicted by insignificance, depression, booze, drugs, sex, laziness, and much more.
It is a war that leaves battle scars inflicted by friends, strangers, bosses, peers, and even family members, but I suspect the greatest enemy I face is myself - who I think I am, who I think I should be, who I think I can never be, who I think others expect me to be, etc.
Robin Williams, upstaging actor and coarse comedian, died yesterday. The authorities strongly suspect he took his own life as the result of ongoing depression. But he was only a man weakened by his own state of mind. The strong characters he played live on.
The application to the rest of us is to break the bindings that restrain us. We must break free of the unattainable standards of perfection that threaten to destroy us. We must not allow ourselves to be held to the unreachable expectations that stretch us to the snapping point.
For me, that means I rely on the kindness of others (and they, on my kindness to them), I lean on the church for support, and I keep a tight relationship with my God, studying his Word, talking to Him regularly, and being the man He intends for me to be. Though he had the support of family, friends, peers, and employees, I don't think Mr. Williams had the family of Christ. It makes all the difference in this world. This guy, who yearned to always be the center of attention, would have done well to turn his own attention to the true Center, the living Son of living God and Savior of the masses, Jesus the Christ.