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A Soldier In The War On Sadness


He was no ordinary mime. A portal opened from another realm, and he would step through and onto Planet Earth, 40.7789º N, 73.9637º W, before the sweeping steps of the Metropolitan Museum. It was New York City in the 1970s. I was a college student, and my art class met at the museum. Whenever he was there, I was mesmerized by his vibrancy, his intensity, and his silent movement.

Watching him was that moment before lightning hits, when you can sense electricity in the air and feel the back of your neck tingle. He could bend time without uttering a word. Everything would speed up and he’d be manic, weightless, strong. Everything would shift to slow motion. He’d move with grace; centered, solid, fluid.  At times, he was as still as stone. Or animated, funny. Earthy, but not earthly, as his ephemeral creations morphed from this to that. You, my friend, like me, would stop and be in the moment.

I saw him enough that I later recognized him on a TV show, without his face paint, but still out of this world. He played an alien. The show: Happy Days. His name: Robin Williams.

You know the rest of the story. He made us laugh long and loud…he was a soldier in the war on sadness. We knew some of his own battles, but did not, until last year, know how brave he was. With so much of his work filled with language and sound, the memory of him, performing in silence, haunts me.

A portal opened from another realm, 37.9128º N, 122.4756º W. It was Paradise Cay, CA, August 11, 2014. Silently, Robin Williams stepped into it, and out of, Planet Earth. You, my friend, like me, stopped to be in the moment. We let his silence fill us.

Robin Williams

Photo: S Huszar

  1. Eileen OToole
    August 13, 2015 at 1:36 am

    that was really beautiful my dear….thanks

    hugs and more hugs from me over here to you over there

  2. August 14, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Reblogged this on lampmagician.

  3. August 14, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    I don’t recall the museum memories, but I do the infatuation with Mork and Mindy. I never really made the connection to mime though Mork made it so obvious.

    He may have been a warrior against sadness, but sadness clung to him like a heavy mantle. The sad clown, the Pagliacci par excellance.

    I’m a dissenter on his comic gifts; I always felt his improv was often desperate, a flight from himself and connecting to his audience, free wheeling but usually a series of unconnected comic dots. However, I’ve always believed him a fine, very fine actor: tethered to a script, a story, and relations with others, he was able to be funny, and poignantly funny, in a deeply human way. 3 cheers for “Good Morning Vietnam”; a constrained, episodically manic Williams, in a surreal tragic context suitably open to his wild flights of saving fancy and delineated, episodic escape. The inhumane chaos of war, grounded, centered, made tragi-comic, the seeming chaos of his wandering mind.

    Above all, Robin Williams had soul, sweet sweet soul, which is why his loss laid us all so low…On the anniversary of his death, I’m sorry for your loss.

    • August 15, 2015 at 5:09 am

      Yes, Pagliacci….We can agree that his work was poignant, and potent. He made me laugh through his sadness. And my own.

  4. September 12, 2015 at 8:53 am

    Beautiful and inspiring! Thank you and a happy week-end 🙂

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