Farewell Robin Williams – By Jeff Katz

One of the must watch TV shows when I was growing up was “Happy Days.” I still remember the oldest brother Chuck Cunningham simply vanishing without a trace after the first season or so. I can still sing the theme song. I remember how and why the phrase “jump the shark” originated and I still vividly recall the introduction of a bizarre character named “Mork”. There was something infectiously funny about my favorite Orkan and that was due entirely to the comic acting ability of Robin Williams.

Through the years I, like so many others, was captivated by Williams and his insatiable appetite for the laugh in his stand up routines. He seemed as if he was in a perpetual race for the punch line. His almost manic energy was always apparent. He was running so very fast, physically and mentally, but we know now that his sprint was away from something not towards something.

Williams also proved himself to be an incredibly talented actor. Most of his success clearly came from comic roles but there were some great moments where he shined bright as the most serious of actors. Now after his untimely death, I’ve gone back and watched some of his performances and you can see that there is a pained look in his eyes.

I don’t mean that his face was contorted or that he was grimacing, but his eyes seem to always be just one blink away from unleashing a torrent of tears. We’ve learned over the years that many performers look for the approval of complete strangers because they themselves have a void they are trying to fill. Some inhale the applause, others bathe in the laughs. For some it may be enough, but for many it is a never ending quest for validation. Williams surely falls in to that last category.

illiams spoke openly about his abuse of alcohol and drugs. He made jokes about his twisted personal life. He always seemed to be searching for some sort of approval and a degree of comfort. Through it all, his eyes revealed the pain he was enduring.

When I voiced my sympathy for Williams I was amazed by the vicious blowback I got from so many readers and listeners. He was a wimp and a coward they told me.

I don’t believe for a second that Robin Williams was a coward or a wimp. I believe that he was truly a tortured soul who did the best he could for as long as he could. It seems to me that he had spent a lifetime seeking approval and validation from others and received them in spades but could never quite bring himself to provide the same to himself. He tried to manipulate his synapses and neurotransmitters with drugs of all sorts, but ultimately could not dull whatever pain ailed him.

One person wrote to me and said that Robin Williams was a loser for killing himself. “He had everything and that still was not enough.” Finally someone actually hit on the real point. Williams seemingly had everything, but it was not enough to make him feel better about himself. That is the real crux of the matter when we deal with a major depressive disorder or clinical depression.

I’d like to think that Robin Williams has finally found the peace he sought for so long. I pray that the suicide of one of our performing world’s bright lights will help illuminate a pathway for others who feel as he did to seek help.