Aug 122014

If it’s true that Robin Williams committed suicide (and it apparently is), then I guess he felt hopeless. I can imagine feeling hopeless if I was him, if I had achieved the success he had, the artistic realization, all the outward rewards that life can possibly offer, and yet my soul was hurting and I couldn’t see an end to it.

On the other hand, I talked today to a dear friend who was struck last year by a rare and virulent form of renal failure (Wagner’s Disease). He did not expect to survive through last year’s Christmas holidays, and he was grateful when he made it that far. Now his disease, remarkably, is in remission and the doctors just reduced his dialysis schedule from three times a week to two, and he is ecstatic. He knows he won’t be able to work again, and he misses feeling useful, but he’s grateful he can do the laundry and the dishes. Months ago he couldn’t walk or even swing his legs out of bed; now he can walk again and he’s thrilled about that. He used to travel a lot; he accepts he cannot do that anymore. He takes pleasure in reading, gardening, watching shows, being with his family. He told me that every morning he wakes up and feels incredibly grateful for another day. Every day, he said, he feels that way. I could hear in his voice that it was true.

Someone recently warned me not to be “emotionally lazy.” I suppose that (at least for many of us) there is a volitional element to our moods, to our states of mind, even to disease conditions like depression (I sometimes wonder if depression is not—at least in some cases—the result of bad habitual thought patterns). It does take a little effort to remember to be happy and grateful.

That said, I am sure it would have to have been much more challenging (more than i can imagine really) for someone as complex and brilliant and creatively “out there” and deep dark real as Robin Williams and I too grieve him and am grateful for the brilliance he brought to our lives and our collective consciousness.