I typically do not hop on a hot button issue in a kneejerk reactionary way. First off, I tend to let my ideas marinate, because truth be told, I am an angry, rageful bitch. If I reply to anyone or anything without taking things down a notch, invariably my intelligence and cunning intuition lead me to be very cruel and ruthless. That’s not the person I want to be; I’m not sure it was the person I was meant to be. It is the person I became through lots of years of weathering shit. I will take full responsibility for how I view the world, but I am not at fault for the shit.
The second reason why I don’t jump on the viral bandwagon is because I’m a trained journalist. You know, like “when I was a 20-something, we fact checked before we published anything.”
But I am so utterly devastated by the death of Robin Williams (an apparent suicide) that I just have to pour something out there so that I don’t take my raging to the streets (and in ungentrified Bushwick, I don’t think it will go over too well).
People are going to wonder why this happened. And, whereas Philip Seymour Hoffman’s OD left some room for wonder (maybe he just got too high), it appears that Mr. Williams took himself out with deliberation after “battling severe depression of late,” per his publicist.
I do not know Mr. Williams. My daughter will never have the honor of working with him. I only know him from his body of work, which brought me both countless laughs and great joy (I’m probably in the minority when I say I thought he 100 percent deserved the Oscar for Good Will Hunting). If I am worried about anyone at this point, it’s his family and his friends (I’m particularly worried for Ethan Hawke, who was close friends with PSH and was working with my daughter when the aforementioned OD took place; I don’t know if Ethan and Robin remained friends, but I know all too well what this kind of loss can do to a person).
So, the first thing that seems to arise with regards to a suicide like this (assuming that it is, at this early hour of the announcement, a suicide), is the idea of “why?” or “how could he not see all the good he brought to the world?”. I used to think that there was no way to explain a suicide. Certainly, when I was younger, my own depression and suicidal ideation were rooted in something inexplicable. However, with age, comes clarity—as they are prone to say.
Now, I’m going to take a huge leap out there. I am speaking for myself and not for Mr. Williams or anyone else who commits suicide. I am going to speak on behalf of the deeply feeling people who suffer depression (as opposed to the sociopathic narcissists, who suicide for reasons that are solely selfish). Yes, suicide is a horrible selfish act, but for some of us, well, this world really truly sucks.
What did Robin Williams do in his life? He made us laugh. He distracted us. He made OUR lives more bearable, maybe.
I no longer keep up with the news. I know generally what is going on. But Gaza makes me scream in horror. Iraq the same. The Ukraine, triply so because I’ve actually been there and know people from the region. The Republicans, who want to kill food stamps and claim they’re enabling poor people to remain poor (while denying entry to this country to children—CHILDREN—who are legitimate REFUGEES) while supporting inversion of corporations that are raping the U.S. of its resources while providing no jobs, no taxes and no middle class claiming they are “doing good business,” make me want to stick pins in congressional voodoo dolls (I wanted to write something harsher, but I don’t need G-Men knocking at my door—although considering I live in ungentrified Bushwick, I may have a sister or two who has my back!).
When people ask me why I’m depressed—despite being white, cis, middle class, with great kids and lots of other marks of privilege—I cannot even begin to explain the horrors of this planet and why I’ll be glad when humans are extinct and there’s nothing left but the awesome tardigrades. Because I look out at humanity and I see the awful. I don’t see the artistry or anything sublime. What I see is true artists—like Mr. Williams—trying not to drown in the muck. Because we are a horrible, awful species. We eat our own and we destroy our own habitat. We are unlike any other creature on Earth, because our destructive impulses will always overcome our more ethereal dreams.
I don’t know Robin Williams. But maybe he just got sick and tired of making people laugh through our shame. Because when schools are being bombed and children being raped and seven-figure-politicians tell us how “the poor are always among us” (while never acting Christ-like EVER), telling a few jokes or delivering a line that distracts people might not be enough to keep you here, watching the horrors of humanity.
You want the cure to depression and suicide? Start by love. Instead of hating whatever and whoever it is you hate, try loving them. Without control. Without judgment. Without depriving them of food or homes or dignity. Love the planet. Live simply and without craving money. Give up everything that isn’t absolutely necessary (which might, in fact, include this blog and the Internet). Empty your brain of rhetoric and another person’s control. It won’t be easy.
But maybe you’ll laugh more. And cry less. #RIPRobinWilliams