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Our world is a little darker without Robin Williams

Paul Peterson

Paul Peterson

Before I write about Robin Williams, I need to share some background with you. For 25 years I worked with youth in crisis and then survivors of abuse. I saw first-hand  the carnage and havoc suicide causes in the lives of people who at

tempt, and their families.
The devastation.
A few years ago I wrote a book called The Next Day. It was based on interviews I conducted with four people who had near fatal suicide attempts.
As this column goes to print,  I am part of a project that intends to bring a staged version of the book to life and tour it across this province and country.
The idea is we need to get people talking about this. We need to break the silence.
When I heard the news that one of the truly gifted actors of our generation had taken his own life I was saddened, but not shocked, and I was worried.
Worried that there is a contagion factor.

Robin-Williams-canada-quoteEveryone thought they knew Robin Williams.
Most people in my generation had travelled with him through a rather remarkable career that started with a brief appearance on Happy Days.
It’s rare that a character is launched from one show to another but Mork from Ork was like a supernova of comedy.
“Nanoo nanoo” became a catch phrases and a star was born.
That light went out yesterday.
The details don’t matter.
Time will pass and people will start to heal.

We will remember the laughs. It will be okay to quote Mrs Doubtfire, or Good Morning Viet Nam, or just one of his crazy manic rants.
TIme does amazing things.
For me, I think my favorite Robin Williams film was Good Will Hunting.
He played a therapist. He was immersed in the role. I thought it was brilliant.

So many comedians have to remind us that they’re in there, under all of that character work. In this film, Robin Williams disappeared and the character shone.
For others it was Patch Adams or The Dead Poets Society or for a lot of people, Mrs. Doubtfire.

Whatever the role, it doesn’t matter. Lately he had been starring in TV’s The Crazy Ones. I never saw the show. I understand however that he was very good in it.
He brought a certain air to all of his roles.
More gravitas of late. Always a little of the devil.

He was a better comedian than an actor or at least he was better known.
Don’t try to make sense out of this. He was in pain, a deep, dark tortured pain that drove him to do something terrible.
Mourn for him.
For his family.
They are left to wonder.
It’s a terrible burden for the survivors.
Everyone thought they knew the man.
Clearly we didn’t.
It’s a tragedy every time we lose someone to their own hand – famous or not.
We have to try and reach people.
Get them to talk.
To tell someone.
It has to start somewhere and maybe losing him will help someone else.

He was a comic genius, and he will be missed. Our world got a little bit darker when his light went out.
For obvious reasons I will not be ending this column with my usual tag line.
I hope there is peace for his family.
Thank you Mr. Williams.
It was a joy watching you.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElsePaul Peterson

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  1. Hoss says:

    a man who transcended his time , his craft and himself. He is an example of a talented and gifted human. We can never know the man but we can appreciate and honour what he gave us. A reason to laugh, cry and take what entertains us to a personal level.

  2. Kate Schutta says:

    So very well said, Paul…thank you…

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