American columnist Erma Bombeck said of her career writing about the quirks of her home life “there is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt” and it is true in most cases that the bigger the laugh, the deeper the well of despair that it echoed out of.
There have been, and will continue to be, many tributes to Robin Williams. I have many, many memories of his films resonating with me, none more so than Dead Poets Society. I still can’t think “Oh Captain, my captain” without getting a lump in my throat. Today especially.
But for all of the roles he played, it was perhaps his appearance in Bobby McFerrin’s video for Don’t Worry, Be Happy that most sums up all the thoughts I’ve had since hearing the news this morning. Legend has it McFerrin wrote the lyrics while suicidal, a note to himself to push through the pain. How terribly sad if that story is true.
I too fight a sometimes daily battle with the more sinister side of my brain, and I too choose humour to pull myself out of that black hole. It’s a lucky person who doesn’t understand that the biggest laughs come from the darkest places. Sometimes the melancholia feels like it will never leave. Continue to seek help, continue to find laughter, continue to try not to worry, continue to try to be happy.
We owe it to Robin.