Few comedic actors possess the capability to cheer us up when we're feeling down, fall off our chairs laughing and remind us of our social responsibility to help others. Robin Williams was one and now he's gone.
Many Boomers came of age virtually the same time as Robin. At 63 he was right in the middle of the first wave and so many of us enjoyed his "breathless" manic humor. His performance co-hosting HBO's first "Comic Relief" broadcast in 1986 along with contemporaries Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg will long be remembered.
My first encounter with his humor was on the sitcom Mork and Mindy. It was different than so many other shows of the period. I wasn't surprised when he became a big talent, and always felt good about the camaraderie he seemed to share with Billy and Whoopi. They were part of my generation... indirectly I was part of their special group.
I always enjoyed his movies and particularly recall Dead Poets Society, One Hour Photo, Moscow On The Hudson and Good Morning Vietnam.
His personality was electric and the quick wit and repartee a joy to behold. I've always had great respect for those whose thought process is lightning quick and addresses topical issues as well as the array of idiosyncrasies of life. Robin's humor had the ability to transcend age, gender and virtually any boundaries.
As we get older it's difficult to see others we care about exit our lives. However we often become inured to it. When someone as gregarious and outgoing as Robin Williams goes before his time it's especially disturbing. For many of us it's as if a close friend has passed away. He and his cohorts are inextricably woven into the fabric of our lives.
While the cause of his death has not been determined precisely, his publicist issued a statement that he had been battling severe depression.
This should give all of use cause to pause and introspect a bit. There's no question that depression plays a major role in aging. Yet unless it manifests in a major fashion we tend to live with and ignore it. But we really shouldn't.
Many of us come from an age when emotional problems were not focused upon and often considered a sign of weakness. Yet the enlightened know this is not so. And the truth is that there are countless Baby Boomers among others who live their lives suffering from some level of depression.
Robin Williams death is a wake-up call to us all. Depression should not be ignored or passed over lightly. It's important to acknowledge when we suffer and to seek out help. It's a sign of strength whenever one looks for counsel to make positive change in their life.
Thousands of articles have been written on the subject and yet still so many suffer. One can't help but wonder about the extent of Robin Williams depression. It's only human to think that if an incredibly talented star with virtually unlimited resources could succumb, then what about ourselves.
Let's not let his passing be simply another "news cycle" that eventually recedes into the recesses of our consciousness.
Now might be a good time for some introspection and perhaps dedication to addressing and recognizing depression in our own lives as well as those whom we care about. Depression is a debilitating illness that can be dealt with effectively and successfully. But only if we make the effort.
I'm a believer of celebration rather than mourning. I choose to recall all the joy and laughter Robin Williams brought to my life as well as his touching cinematic performances that seemed to resonate with me.
For right now I simply choose to remember Robin Williams fondly and enjoy the fruits of his labor. I'm going to watch my favorite performance of his as Vladimir Ivanoff in Moscow On The Hudson and relive the pleasure he brought into my life.