My friend texted me to say Robin Williams had taken his own life.
Nanu nanu, she said. Rainbow suspenders forever, I said.
This amazing, bright, shining, funny man who delighted the world has decided to leave on his own terms. We don’t really know what happened, but for sure it is shockingly sad to hear the news. Sad to imagine how his wife and family are doing.
Wherever Robin is now, he gets it. He understands.
Death is an experience for the living. We’re the ones experiencing that shock and sadness, we are the ones still here, we’re feeling the loss, and perhaps we’re even feeling left behind.
It is sad for us. It is sad for his family and the community surrounding them. They will have to put the pieces together for a very long time. But we can’t really know if he made a wrong choice. Perhaps he tried his very best and just couldn’t try anymore. Maybe he was done. Maybe for Robin, this was his right choice.
Sometimes I have kooky thoughts like I wish I weren’t awake.
In those moments I tell myself my life would feel easier if I weren’t awake on this journey. In my dream, I go around with my crooked little heart to my little job maybe canning beans or putting labels onto boxes, and I come home every night to enjoy sipping my martinis doing the crosswords while watching the evening news or maybe I’d listen to NPR.
In this dream version of my life, I am happy and I have no problems.
And I never think about upsetting things. And I don’t remember sad stories. And I have no struggles to get out of bed, ever…and I never ever get mad at people, and I never feel resentful or all used up. And I definitely never have anxiety…never.
The first healer I ever saw told me that a spiritual path is a lonely path.
Will you think less of me if I tell you I kind of hated her for saying it? It felt like a prison sentence like, check your happiness at the door because from here on out it’s all hopeless. I assumed that the pursuit of peace and freedom would ALWAYS feel like going to Disneyland. We were both wrong. Or maybe we were both right, if you get that going to Disneyland also means there’s a good chance you’ll be puking before you leave.
Waking up isn’t always fun, it’s often lonely (and scary and depressing).
I don’t recommend it to people who are not exactly awake to the spiritual journey and are enjoying their life as is. I meet them at parties and sometimes they call to inquire whether or not I think they need to see me (they do not, yet). But the thing is, once you’re on the path searching, once you’re here, once you wake yourself up, you have to do the work.
You have to do the work because you’re now aware of the problem. You’re now awake to the suffering. And you are choosing to get free.
It’s my practice to not send my worries to people, but instead to send my love.
So when I think of Robin’s family and friends, and I imagine what this experience is like for them, I send love. I breathe in and out, peace and love, which is a Buddhist practice called Tonglen. I ease the suffering and send them extra love. I like thinking of it as me sending peace from my heart to theirs (a Course in Miracles principle). This is how I choose to do it. This is what feels right for me.
A death like this reminds us of the ones we have lost. Perhaps of those friends we have tried and failed to help. Robin’s death plucks at those strings. Can we hold compassion for our own stories along with Robin’s? Can we be compassionately present for the grief and sorrow still remaining in our own hearts? Can we breathe this in and out? Can we send love?
As we continue to hear about Robin being depressed and how he struggled with his demons and addictions, can we sit with our own struggles and sadness?
Can we be with our inner sad one, and do our best to love and accept this part? I too struggle in and out of depression. I think a lot of us do actually. And it seems like it’s taken me forever to understand that this journey was never about eradicating the dark spots in my heart, it was always about inviting them in and loving myself more fiercely.
But there are times when other people judge me for having depression or anxiety or struggling with my own addictions. Bless them on their way, I say. I can’t be with the ones who can’t acknowledge it. It’s not good for either of us. Because the reality is, we are all seeking alignment, balance. We are all looking for our center and that means there will be plenty of times where we are anything but. So to the ones who judge and need us to be perfect-perfect-perfect? That says more about where they’re at on their own journey than anything else. And I vote we send love…and extend both of us the courtesy of keeping it real. And sometimes we must do that from afar.
It is not realistic to expect that guys like Robin Williams who seemingly have everything should be happy.
Better to stay open and acknowledge that we can’t really know and have compassion for a man who was expected to be the light of the party, even in the times when he did not feel up to it. Love and appreciation for a man who joked so very cleverly because this was how he became loved and accepted most. Empathy for the guy who masked his feelings with substances and smiles.
I know a lot of my own edges. I am more and more awake to what has happened to me on my journey. And while I am not saying that to excuse myself from growing or permit myself to wallow, I acknowledge what happened has permanently altered the fabric of my being. My scars and edges are there and it just isn’t being in reality to deny this is so.
I know my edges, and maybe Robin Williams knew his too.
Maybe he tried his best. Yes, maybe he did his best. How could we ever begin to know what it was like to be him? We can imagine, we can assume…but we can never really know.
Can we ponder what it must have been like to feel the pressure to provide the light for the other’s darkness? To be the Head Cheerer-Upper who may have had little space to feel his own sadness? To be the guy who people assume had it so much better than the rest of us so he has nothing to be unhappy about?
Yes, I can, and when I ponder this, I feel the compassion and love. And I can totally relate because that is my journey too.
Nanu nanu, and rainbow suspenders forever, Robin.
Dear friend, I am sending love to you across the miles. Thank you for your light and your journey. And your beautiful reflections back to my own heart.