Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Solitude of Suffering

The overblown media coverage and the emotional public outcry over the untimely death of actor and comedian Robin Williams is so interesting to observe.
Robin Williams ~ 1951-2014

Why are people so acutely affected by this loss of a beloved celebrity? The ongoing reactions are shocked, devastated, disbelieving. It's a sad and upsetting event, of course. I've always enjoyed Robin Williams as an entertainer and will miss him terribly. But is it really so shocking that a comedic genius, who had spent most of his life tormented by inner demons, would eventually lose his very human battle?

I think the forceful reactions to Williams' death are expressions of our own human vulnerabilities. They are a reminder to us that we are each alone with our own soul; no one can truly know the depths of another person. Internal struggles can remain forever hidden, or they may result in a tragic suicide like Robin Williams. Not even loved ones closest to Williams knew the extent of his pain.

Perhaps that's what bothers us so much. Robin Williams had fame, wealth, family, and almost universal goodwill and admiration. If someone as blessed in life as he was could be conquered by his darker side, who among us is safe? This is an ancient question with an unchanging answer. The poem Richard Cory, published in 1897, expresses well the mystery of a troubled man's private despair. In following the narrative of Richard Cory's life, Robin Williams played his final part. The brilliant comedian has left us through a self-imposed tragedy. Now, because he is gone, the world is a poorer place; and we are left to wonder why.