August 12, 2014

Goodbye Professor Keating

Robin Williams passed. Its a sad day. We all look inside ourselves and wonder why its a sad day. He was just a celebrity. Aren't there people dying every day? Why aren't we more concerned with that?


In order for something to have meaning you have to make it personal. Its easy to distance ourselves from the horrors of war until we see the faces of the victims on the news. Its easy to walk by a homeless person without giving them a quarter until someone you know becomes homeless. Robin Williams made it personal.


From the beginning as Mork, he showed us not only his comedic genius but his humility. That's why the show worked. He tried to understand what it was like to be human and he made us wonder too. It wasn't his jokes that I remember from that show, it was the way he slumped his shoulders and asked questions and really marveled at the world.


Perhaps the biggest impact any entertainer had on me is when he played Professor Keating on  Dead Poet's Society. I was a teenager then and battling with my parents about what I wanted to do with my life. They had their ideas. I had mine. I wanted to be a writer, but all I heard was that it was a fool's choice. At the time they didn't believe in me. So I didn't believe in myself.


I went with a friend that night to see Dead Poet's Society. It resonated with me in a way nothing ever had until that moment. For the first time in my life I felt...free.


Parents and world be damned. I could be what I wanted to be. Life was about living and taking advantage of EVERY SINGLE DAY. There wasn't enough time to be complacent.


At the end of the movie a handful of people stood up in their theater chairs. I was one of them. I stood there for a long, long time, even as people filed out of the theater past me and my friend got embarrassed. That one movie put everything in perspective for me.


Thank you Robin Williams for such a splendid performance. You changed my life. And I owe you.


This is a real journal entry from that night after the movie. I can truly say you helped me to become who I needed to become.

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