Posts Tagged ‘buddha’

I love Robin Williams.

Robin Williams is a hero of mine. But that’s not really a deep enough concept to express his role in my life. I have absolutely shaped my approach to life around what I perceived of him as a hero. I never met him. I never received fan mail back from him or did a stand up routine next to him. I don’t have any remarkable story about him – except that I stayed up late, rented, borrowed my way into every piece of work he put out. From Mork and Mindy to the Comic Relief stuff to all of his movies to every late night appearance… I took in all of it as some source-book of how to interact, how to think, how to absorb the world so fully you can be in all of those situations and BE REMARKABLE.

As a high school senior I thought deeply about the idea of Julliard because of him. I imagined a future in which I could go out to the world and say things he said… not because I rehearsed it but because I was speaking honestly in my synthesis of everything I was taking in. I wanted to be that good only better… even faster on my feet. Even quicker with my wit. Even deeper with my knowledge. Anywhere, in any circle, at any moment.

And make no mistake, I’m not delusional about Performance vs. Real Life. I read anything I could of his non-performance experiences – from his activism and social engagement to his personal struggles to his ideas about comedy to his appreciation of J. Winters. Robins Williams life, in all its facets, speaks profoundly to me.

For most of my life the person I’ve been mostly compared to in my approach to everything, even from my own mouth, is Robin Williams. (and I not only don’t hate it, I love it. I want to be that.) I’m drawn to this engagement with the world:





10000000 jokes (ideas) is bound to deliver 1 GOOD ONE, SO KEEP GOING




Yes, Dead Poets Society is one of my top 5 movies. Good Morning Vietnam is also in the top 5. Good Will Hunting is such an important movie to me….. …. …. All these things are quite obvious. Robin Williams dealt with and engaged and seriously considered the entirety of the human experience. For me he is the ultimate synthesis of this absurd and beautiful world.

The vortex that is postmortem analysis will never change the strange loop that lives on through me and others. Posit what we want about mental illness and depression and comedy and hollywood or whatever else we will try to make it all tidy, it doesn’t matter. Robins Williams is a buddha. He’s one of those rare convergences of vitality that infuses many other souls with purpose. I love you, Robin. Thanks for helping make me, me.

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Is this existence the only life we have?  no after life… no heaven… no hell?  is there karma? is there reincarnation? is there soul? Is there anything other than the 80 or so years most of us will “live”? What are the implications?

Russell’s (Son) position:

This is it.  My 28,105 days are all that I have.  People might remember some version of the things I said or did, others might have photos and videos of some slice of my life and some might carry my genes but I, capital I, will cease to exist when I die.

Based on that, best to live life to the fullest.  That doesn’t mean become adrenaline junkie or find Buddha.  To me it means just do and stop to smell the roses.   Work hard, play hard… be at peace as much as is reasonable. Experience as much as possible.

I like what my grandfather said, “All you leave behind is how people remember you.”  [In the response below, Mom corrects this… perhaps I remembered the quote the way I wanted to… hmmmm]

Donna’s (Mother) response:

So glad to see my father’s words recalled here. I remember them a bit differently, “When it’s all said and done, it’s only the people who will matter.” But that’s really an aside to the question here for me, since I think he was trying to tell me to live for the people and not the stuff after he had spent so many years working so hard to provide me with a good and comfortable life. He wasn’t commenting on his belief in God (which was also one of his deep values) but rather trying to guide me.

Is this life all we have? Is this it? I do not believe this physical life is it.

In fact, the last time I heard anyone say that “this is it” was when my brother and I stood at direct odds over the impending death of our dad — the man quoted by both mother and son herein.

My father was languishing on life support systems having had a very bad outcome from his surgery for pancreatic cancer. He lapsed into a coma shortly after the surgery and showed few — if any — signs that he could or would come out of the coma.

As the hours and days wore on, my brother was determined. If there was one sliver of a chance that our dad would come out of his coma, my brother wanted the life support to continue. I argued that my dad never wanted to be kept alive on life support systems when his quality of life was not likely to be outcome. I wanted his wishes honored. I wanted the machines turned off.

My brother was livid and terrified. He said things like, “Don’t get the flu around Donna, she’ll blow your brains out,” and, “I don’t know about you, but I believe this life is all we get so we have to keep him alive if there is any chance at all for life.”

I was angry, hurt but determined. I answered him, “No, I do not believe this is it. But it really doesn’t matter what you or I believe, what matters is what he (our dad) believes, and he believed in something more. He did not fear death but living a life that was without meaning.”

A day or two later when my brother could be sufficiently convinced that there was no hope for life for my dad and after my dad had then suffered mini-strokes and lots of end-of-life traumas, we finally turned off the machines.

We stood at his beside. A shell of a body that had not shown any tangible signs of life for eight days — my dad was finally to die. In the midst of those sad moments, he turned his head, opened his eyes and fixed them on mine. I reassured him that everything would be all right, just as he had reassured me so many times when I was a little girl. I told him I loved him (as we all did). And he died. The sun was visable for a few moments before the cloud covered filled in the gray skies, and it was over.

My dad was my main teacher in areas of the greater themes of my life, my value system and my overall beliefs, but he was by no means my only teacher.

It is my experience is that the deeper threads of life hold more than I can comprehend or explain without my faith. The wind, a crashing wave on the Pacific shore, a grandchild’s voice, a phrase well-written… or a the love of my father who gave up so much of what he desired to share the fruits of his work with me and to better my life.

I have so much faith in something outside of self.

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