I do, really; I have to talk about Robin Williams.
I think about my childhood, about watching Mindy (Pam Dawber) drive into Boulder in her little Jeep Wrangler. I see Mork (Himself) in his bright red uniform, I hear his voice, I see him take the Vulcan greeting and turn it on its side. Even though I watched the reruns of Star Trek, it was Mork and Mindy that had me practicing, so I could greet my friends properly.
Since I was young, he was always there. Making us laugh and think, as an alien reporting back to his superior – even then I knew that was something to listen to – or staring in a cheesy movie with songs I can’t get out of my head (I own it on DVD…couldn’t help it), or performing standup at the Met, something I didn’t get to see until I was a bit older, he was there.
As I’ve alluded to before, my childhood wasn’t the best. It wasn’t the worst, either – I did then and do now have a family that cares about me, that loves me, that is there for me, I have a roof over my head and food in my fridge – but it wasn’t the best. The worst bits didn’t happen at home, and I’ve dealt with depression and trauma for pretty much my whole life. Even then, I could connect to Robin Williams. He was the first one who let me see the tragic clown. He wasn’t an object of pity or derision, he was getting on with it. I imagined I could see his pain even when he was bouncing off the walls – especially then, actually. Frenetic, manic energy, never sitting still long enough for the world to get him, he inspired me.
After that, I started paying more attention to the comedians and comic actors. Not always, but it seems some of the best comedy comes from pain. I know it often does for me. Oh, I can’t always laugh, of course not, but sometimes, sometimes I can. Sometimes I have to. I’ve developed a rather dark sense of humor; coupled with what can only be considered my Saharan side,* it can make for, um, interesting times when I might laugh. Sometimes I’m the only one who sees it.
That humor, though, dark, dry or just plain odd, it can keep me going when nothing else will.
I’ve stood at the Abyss; I’ve watched gravel fall into the darkness, heard it hit the walls of the canyon, disappearing but never hitting bottom. Dark as my humor can be, there’s nothing so dark, so oppressive, as that Abyss. I do what I can to avoid it, to stay away, to not even see it with binoculars. It’s not a place anyone wants to be – might be tempted to take that last step once you’re there.
If you know someone who is there, don’t tell them it will get better. Don’t say others have it worse, or that they have nothing to be sad about. These are the things that could push them over. Their minds are already telling them how worthless they are, how useless, what a waste of space, how everyone would be better off without them; tell them others have it worse, and you’ve just proven their point. Sit there, be there, be patient, talk if they want, just sit if they don’t. In that place, going to someone for help may be completely overwhelming, so don’t expect them to come to you. And if the worst should happen, and you did all you could, just remember that sometimes, even the best isn’t good enough.
*In addition to dark and quirky, my sense of humor can also be called dry. Extremely dry. Like the Sahara. Get it now? Okay.
Story of the Fisher King – The Fisher King