The passing of Robin Williams (not mention all the other awfulness in the news this week, I mean- none of that other stuff is new news, but just…so disheartening) was on my mind a lot this week, for many reasons. I had a friend who suffered from depression who committed suicide some years ago, and so when I hear about things like this, it brings that right back. My friend was a sweet, gentle, kind person who everyone loved, and hearing everyone who knew Williams talk about how he was all of those things just resonated with me in a specific-to-my-memories-of-my-friend sort of way. Depression is so real, so serious, and so misunderstood. I don’t have anything more to say about it than that, but it’s just been on my mind.
When I was in high school, I had the DVD of Dead Poet’s Society, and my girlfriends and I were OBSESSED with it. Some of us had been on a singing tour of England a year before (oh, geeky performing arts kids!) and so believe you me we were PRIMED to be obsessed with anything that had to do with teen prep school boys since we had been awash in school uniformed Brit lads (some more literally awash in them than others) while over there. My particular group of closest pals were all very different from each other, but the thing we all had in common was our unabashed, balls out exhilaration for life (oh, geeky performing arts kids!). We were not shy and retiring teens. We were drive-around-too-late, make-out, snort-laugh, sleep-in-a-heap, in-love-with-each-other pals. From our love of Dead Poet’s Society (which I haven’t seen since, so please don’t ruin it for me and school me on how bad it actually is), I remember we took to saying “Carpe Diem!” to each other instead of “goodbye” or “good luck.” If one of us had an audition or tryout for a team, we’d say “carpe diem!” as they left to go do their thing. If one of us got up the nerve to go talk to a crush, we’d say “carpe diem!” before they went for it. We felt full ownership over the phrase, in the way that teens who have discovered something feel exclusive authority over that thing. I even had it printed on my graduation party invites. Shut up, I really did! I was so all about it. Because we wanted to seize everything: the day, the future, our love for each other, and yes, maybe the preppy looking Dead Poet Society boys that we were sure would be waiting for us when we arrived at college.
I am just the right age for very age-relevant appreciation of Robin Williams. As an itty bitty, Mork and Mindy was exactly the silliness that spoke to me, plus, um, hello: cool rainbow suspenders! In middle school I felt grown up because I saw his stand up specials and understood them, with all their crazy fast references. In college, his melancholy Good Will Hunting performance was just right for my ripening seriousness. But out of everything, I think I loved Dead Poet’s Society best. Friendship, love, loyalty, kindness– those were the things that were most important to me at the age when I saw it, and still are now. Carpe diem, you know? Fuck yeah, carpe diem.
Those are my jumbled up, not so coherent thoughts from this week. It’s beyond me to speak coherently about all of it, because it’s been making me feel so many things. So anyway. Here’s a song.
Anna Nalick, Breathe