I have known a marvelous woman, my second wife, who suffered similarly to Robin Williams from severe chemical depression. She also attempted suicide multiple times over the span of her life, finally succeeding. Personally and professionally she also went way beyond what we might think of as “the extra mile” to make others happy. Tonight, I am wondering if Williams was more or less Driven to make others happy, and so was “always on”. I think many of us know what it’s like to feel the need to please someone, if not to please everyone. I’ve been told that most of us know at least a kernel of the experience of feeling less than “enough”.
In compassion I just want to offer a notion: Those of us who have a history of feeling a need to meet unrealistic, or even insane, expectations deserve time and room to take care of ourselves as well as we try to take care of others. This is another opportunity to absorb the wisdom of letting that need go, if at all possible –more like a rough pebble in our shoe, instead of a cross we bear.
Wouldn’t that just go a LONG ways toward a happier, more sane, more playful, more connected world!?!
Thinking of those who were close with Robin Williams, I am reminded of a rendering by Daniel Ladinsky of a poem by Sufi poet, Hafiz:
I Know The Way You Can Get
I know the way you can get
When you have not had a drink of Love:
Your face hardens,
Your sweet muscles cramp.
Children become concerned
About a strange look that appears in your eyes
Which even begins to worry your own mirror
Squirrels and birds sense your sadness
And call an important conference in a tall tree.
They decide which secret code to chant
To help your mind and soul.
Even angels fear that brand of madness
That arrays itself against the world
And throws sharp stones and spears into
And into one’s self.
O I know the way you can get.. .
That said, I wasn’t even remotely close to him, so I don’t know for sure if it’s fair or accurate to say that Williams was driven to please. Maybe it’s not that simple? Maybe we won’t reduce his life and contributions to “lesson”, and will just let him be what he was and is.. in many ways a mirror of our love of playing, of creating, of giving others pleasure, and above ALL, of living life to his fullest. He was irrepressible, if nothing else.
I thank Robin for the amazing awesome gift of himself. Period.