In our comment exchange on my Robin Williams… post, my friend frigginloon said something very interesting:
Robin Williams legacy will go beyond laughter, he will change the way people perceive depression …..his parting gift.
The thing is, as I’d tried to express in my first response:
I just hope those who bemoan what he’s taken from us will think about what he endured to give us all he gave…
I have my doubts. You see, all the news coverage in the aftermath of Robin’s suicide has reminded me of something my (now) ex-wife said to me when I tried to explain my own suicidal thoughts (and failed attempts):
Life isn’t all about YOU Mak!
And I guess she was right, in her own way. As all that news coverage has confirmed, life, apparently, is all about everyone who is not me. You see, when I said in my post on Robin Williams:
I know this is probably just me projecting my own feelings onto him, but I saw in him a man determined to show us, in any way he could, just what our human potential could allow us to become. I, for one, will miss his shining example…
I really was talking about myself. About my own lifelong struggle to “give back” to my fellow man. To be someone who stood as an example of “the incredible potential for good that exists in our species,” and to show everyone “what a tragic waste it would be if we don’t realize that potential while we have the chance.” But really, what have I gained from it? Being thought of as someone who’s so “selfish,” “inconsiderate” and “cowardly” as to think he has the right to deny his support to a world filled with people who are themselves hell bent on self-destruction despite my efforts. That’s what I’ve gained!
Look, I don’t presume for a minute to be able to speak for Robin Williams, and I certainly don’t know if what I saw in his eyes over all those years really reflected the mind of a man experiencing the same pain that I do. The fact is that, regardless of how hard I’ve tried, it is literally impossible for me to see the world through any eyes but my own. My ex may have been right when she said that life isn’t all about me, but it’s also true that, as one who suffers from a brain disease that makes me break down in tears when I’m around other people – and who starts having homicidal thoughts after listening to their bullshit for too long – MY life MUST be about me, and what I NEED to stay relatively sane!
Okay, it occurs to me that some of you might think that Robin Williams may have become an altogether “different” kind of example for me now. Well rest assured my friends, the words I concluded my very first blog post with are still holding as true (at least for now) as they did when I first wrote them:
The truth is that I just needed to speak my mind, and being able to take the time to get it right before it’s heard is simply too cool to pass up.
But I am still struggling to break free. Unfortunately, the next step is gonna have to involve ridding myself of the “soul sucking vampire” I’ve been allowing to share my home with me – my son, who has some serious “selfishness and consideration” issues of his own. Check out what he said to me just yesterday, two days after returning from a four day, all-expenses paid trip to Georgia with my oldest son and his wife. He told me that he thinks he should “just say no” the next time someone offers to take him somewhere. When I asked him why, he actually had the nerve to respond with “coming back to my miserable life here is just too depressing.” Are you fucking kidding me?!?!
Well, I guess he’ll have to move back in with his mom when I “relieve” him of the “depressing life” he’s been living here – entirely at my expense – and we’ll just see how well her “life’s not all about you” message works for him!
Anyway, and now for some true irony. Check out what I found while searching for the song I wanted to end this post with..
I know I’ve posted Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut several times before, but I’m thinking that perhaps you may have a better understanding of why now. The lyrics really do say it all…
You know, there comes a point in each of our lives when we have to assess whether the support we’re providing to those we love is actually helping, or simply making it easier for them to resist much needed change. When you really look at it, that type of “enabling,” of allowing people to think they can just go on living with no regard to the damage they do because you’ll always be there to pick up the pieces, could be viewed as the worst kind of evil there is – the perpetuation of the belief that it’s okay for people to, in essence, treat other people as slaves. The funny thing is that just about everyone I know would scream in outrage at the sight of someone flogging an animal to make them pull a load a little further. And yet we don’t seem to recognise that we owe that same kind of respect to each other too.
There’s a part in Ayn Rand’s epic novel, Atlas Shrugged, where Francisco d’Anconia asks Hank Rearden what advice he would give to Atlas after witnessing that, despite the titan’s monumental efforts to prevent its fall, the world just bore down upon his shoulders all the more. Rearden wasn’t able to answer, so Francisco provided his own – to shrug. Okay, I know you’re all tempted to just dismiss that as the fiction of idealists, and to write off the notion of a “philosophical strike that stops the motor of the world” as being just plain impossible.
But I want you to stop, just for a moment, to remember that our philosophical worldview is the thing that directs all of our feelings, all of our thoughts, and all of our actions. And then I want you to consider the impact a world-wide epidemic of depression – brought on by our own failure to get our philosophical houses in order – would have upon the global economy. I think that, once you consider these things, you’ll see that that “impossible strike” has, in fact, already begun…
I want ice water.
More from the My Life volume