Robin Williams was Family.

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Really Truly Old School Cool: Robin Williams street performing in 1979

Above: “Disney’s touching tribute to Robin Williams, from their FB page this morning.” 

“But oh, to be free.”

good will hunting "robin williams"

Robin Williams was Family. (5 Scenes I’ll Remember For the rest of my Life)

Update: Robin Williams, quoted in the NY Times, on his appreciation for life’s brevity a few years back after he went through heart surgery.

You appreciate little things,” he said in an interview in The New York Times, “like walks on the beach with a defibrillator.”

More seriously, Mr. Williams said he had reassessed himself as a performer. “How much more can you give?” he told The Times. “Other than, literally, open-heart surgery onstage? Not much. But the only cure you have right now is the honesty of going, this is who you are. I know who I am.”

This is an electric moment where the entire nation if not world thinks of one heart. 

An excerpt from President Barack Obama’s statement, sent from the White House:

“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien — but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most–from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.”

Thank you, Robin, so much, from all of us, for everything you gave us. You touched so many of us and helped us to grow up and be genuine.

A link to get help if you’re battling depression.

“The loneliest people are the kindest.

The saddest people smile the brightest.

All because they do not wish to see

anyone suffer the way they do.”

~ Unknown

Robin Williams has passed away. Please join in offering our love and thoughts to Robin Williams and his family. Thank you for everything, Robin!

I heard about Robin Williams just two hours ago. I was on my way into yoga class. I’d taken my phone out to put it on airplane mode, and saw the news alert from the New York Times.

It’s one of those small moments when the fabric of our world as we know it tears.

Without hyperbole, Robin Williams has been a family member for me, and I imagine too for so many of you. His manic humor did not charm me—rather his tender smile fathered me more than perhaps anyone else in the crass culture of Hollywood.

From his wife: Susan Schneider, in a statement, “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings.” She added: “As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”

Here are a few moments of his that I will miss forever.

Two relephant posts offering some of his best:

1. His speech about death—and therefore the preciousness of this life—in Dead Poets Society.

2. His speech, from Good Will Hunting, about the meaning and power of true love.

3. His longing for that first kiss is so “Buddhist”—bringing his sweet insecure date back from her imaginings to the present moment. “And that’s my favorite part.”

4. Don’t forget Mork & Mindy, set in my hometown of Boulder, Colorado, where I’m writing this from. Here’s the complete first episode.

5. Goooood Morrrrnnnnning Vietnammmm!

6. His advice to those battling depression: “Reach out to friends. They’re out there. And know that you are loved.”

Thank you, Robin. 

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

                     But O heart! heart! heart!

                        O the bleeding drops of red,

                           Where on the deck my Captain lies,

                              Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;

Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

                     Here Captain! dear father!

                        The arm beneath your head!

                           It is some dream that on the deck,

                             You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,

My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,

The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,

From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;

                     Exult O shores, and ring O bells!

But I with mournful tread,

Walk the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

Relephant Reads:

Depression is a Highly Intelligent State of Being

What it’s Really Like to be Depressed

A Life to Remember: Robin Williams Found Dead at 63

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anonymous Aug 14, 2014 12:19pm

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day. ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

anonymous Aug 14, 2014 12:47am

Robin Williams, we loved you so much in Denmark. R.I.P.

anonymous Aug 13, 2014 12:22pm

Robin Williams will be missed by so many. Dead Poets Society and Goodwill Hunting are two of my all-time favorites. Thoughts are with his family right now.

anonymous Aug 12, 2014 3:52pm

Beautiful tribute, Waylon. So true, he did feel like family. I am shedding tears for Robin as if I actually knew him.

anonymous Aug 12, 2014 12:48pm

I wish he could have conquered his demons. A selfish thought really because his being gave so many of us calm, mirth and so much food for thought. Now with his passing the world is a poorer place for the rest of us to live in. R.I.P. Robin. I’m so glad I was alive in your lifetime, just wish you were still alive in mine.

anonymous Aug 12, 2014 10:16am

What's the world gonna look like without Mr. Williams?

anonymous Aug 12, 2014 9:44am

The world has dimmed a bit… I can honestly say the news of a celebrity's life ending never brought me to tears before.

anonymous Aug 12, 2014 9:08am

It took me a few minutes to digest the news when I first saw it (I literally yelled out "WHAT THE FUCK???!!!") His death brought to mind a quote I'd seen recently about being kind to everyone you meet, because they may be fighting battles you know nothing about. If ever there was an example of this, it's the tragic loss of an incredibly talented human being, and talented in so many respects, not just with respect to his acting/comedy genius. Even knowing, as so many did, of his battles with addiction and depression, his suicide just once again proves that you just truly never know what's going on behind someone's eyes. A sad day for all who knew him, or simply loved him from afar because of his comedy/acting. RIP Robin, I can't imagine there will ever be another one quite like you …

anonymous Aug 12, 2014 8:30am

When I was a kid and my family took our first trip out to Colorado, my twin sister and I made my parents stop our rented van in Boulder—because we wanted to visit where Mork & Mindy was set. Great, inclusive piece.

anonymous Aug 12, 2014 2:00am

Watched Mork n Mindy the first episode and twas so funny. There is no one like Robin Williams..

anonymous Aug 12, 2014 2:00am

Absolutely true – he was somehow like a father figure and a family member. I'd like you to know he was just as wonderful in person as you would imagine, and a beloved person in his community.

anonymous Aug 12, 2014 12:54am

Good bye fantastic Robbin

anonymous Aug 12, 2014 12:07am

"My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!" – E.St.V.Millay

anonymous Aug 11, 2014 11:34pm

A beautiful tribute. It does feel like the fabric of the world is torn. From Alladin to Mrs. Doubtfire, he shaped my generation's childhood, and with Dead Poets Society he taught us about love and loss. He was one of the good ones. Thank you for this, Waylon!

anonymous Aug 11, 2014 9:55pm

Thank you for the beautiful post. You wrote what I couldn’t put into words, and I’m so grateful. I wish he was alive to see and experience our love for him and appreciation for all his work.

anonymous Aug 11, 2014 9:31pm

Thank you for posting.
A most magnanimous man.
I am grateful for how he touched my life.

anonymous Aug 11, 2014 7:44pm

Beautiful tribute for a man too beautiful for this world. R.I.P., Robin. You will be missed!

anonymous Aug 11, 2014 7:40pm

Great post! You pretty much hit them all.

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.