Its been a year- Nelson Mandela and Robin Williams, both heroes to me in different ways, have died. I know that Mandela was a man of violence at times, and I’ve heard enough of Robin Williams material to know he wasn’t just the genie in Aladdin, but they both inspired me in my life.
Robin Williams, from the first time I saw him in Mork and Mindy as a child, made me laugh, and made me want to make others laugh. I could see that for him humour was as much a defence as anything else, and as I grew older it came as no surprise to see that many of his roles (Mrs Doubtfire, Good Morning Vietnam, the Fisher King) contained a mix of ludicrous humour and tragedy- in the face of terrible things, laughter is sometimes the only thing we can hide behind and can offer to others.
But as well as laughter, Robin Williams often portrayed characters that showed great determination to their goal, sometimes blind to the damage they caused to others but always aiming for something greater- never selfish. It saddens me that he was not able, ultimately, to defeat the darkness in his own life and to come to terms with himself, to be a sad clown, but one who is at peace.
There’s a good article here on the BBC website that gives some highlights and reminders of the man- the clip from his Oscar win is definitely worth watching.
I’ve been reading from the book of Proverbs this morning- I figure Robin Williams might have appreciated its short pithy sayings and tone… its combination of extreme parody with deeper wisdom. So today, go find the book of Proverbs, and flick through it until you find one that strikes you…