Robin Williams was of my father’s generation, just one year younger. When I was a child, I watched him play ‘Mork’ on televison. I couldn’t tell you the plot of a single episode; I remember I enjoyed watching. Later, I watched Mr. Williams in a number of movies and generally enjoyed his performances. I enjoyed his standup.
With his death — his suicide — I’ve only just realized that he was something more than just another performer to me. He presented himself as a somewhat manic guy, a lover of life, someone whose enthusiasm reached into the bounds of the socially unacceptable. His enthusiasm was accepted because it was always part of a bit, a performance, as we in the public saw it.
But I think that was just his level of enthusiasm. An unacceptable lust for life and all of the unattainable variety, variety and experience beyond a single grasp, that life has to offer.
I have always, in my memory, been unacceptably enthusiastic. I have cloaked it in cynicism, in humor; I have excused it as an act. But it is not an act. I am enthusiastic beyond the bounds of social acceptability. He found a way to express that. I have couched it in writing and other things, but have never found what he did: a way to continually express that enthusiasm in a way that is acceptable to others. And still, he found it wanting.
In my experience, that kind of enthusiasm, hope, empathy, desire for life and all it has to offer comes with a downside: bitter disappointment. People disappoint. Society disappoints. In general, enthusiasm for all of the great potential for life and love is squashed in favor of a socially acceptable moderation.
I don’t like that at all. Now that he is dead, I realize a commonality. I don’t think he liked that aspect of social life either.
He expected, wanted, hoped, for more from life than, ultimately, it was able to give. That’s what I think. Maybe I’m wrong.
But maybe I’m right.