Tag Archives: society

Why Robin Williams’ Passing is a Lesson for us all

As a new blogger, one of my biggest hurdles to face is my own personal demons as I write each post. I get to touch upon some aspect of what makes me happy, sad, angry, bitter, content, excited, and all sorts of other human emotions. It is an emotional outlet for me.

Some people turn to family, friends, sports… whatever makes them at ease. Sometimes, these vices are overtly self-destructive and hazardous; drug and alcohol abuse is an overt expression of unhealthy ways to deal with emotion. But, strangely enough, these vices are likely less destructive than what, according to a recent Cracked.com article states is behind the death of Robin Williams, and so many others who seem happy-go-lucky: being funny.

It seems really counter-intuitive. Happy, humorous, socially adept people have for time immemorial, suffered from strong, devastating bouts of depression. 

On the surface, we can understand the irony of the situation, and perhaps even be initially confused by the seemingly contradictory emotions being present in one and the same person. After all, if you spent much of your childhood in the late 80s and early 90s, like myself, you can recall movies like Mrs Doubtfire, Hook, and Dead Poets Society, where Robin Williams plays a relatively chipper character. 

His Inside the Actors Studio interview was simultaneously the most entertaining and the most frustrating one I have ever watched. One anticipates James Lipton just about to burst saying “Damn it, man! Why must you torture me thus!” 

And yet, considering what has transpired, it isn’t surprising to see that even on a television show where actors are required to bare themselves he was still “on”.

And this brings us to the issue at hand, which is such a convincing case brought to us by Cracked.com: he used humor, or legalized insanity, as Williams put it, to deflect personal issues from being raised. Comics, alongside many people who have been praised for their strong artistic or academic skills, have used their gift–in this case, humor–to push people away. 

The scariest thing about this article, and what raises alarm bells, is that many of the funniest people in our own lives, past or present, are using these very same techniques to keep us at bay. We may think that some have their life figured out when in fact they are just at the brink of their own breaking point. They hide it because they are afraid of others’ reactions to their condition.

However, if you are one of those people who using humor to deflect, please talk to someone. Do not shrug it off or laugh it off. You, just like any other human being on this crazy planet, are not alone in your anguish; many times we feel like the victims, or make ourselves the martyrs for a greater cause (in Williams’ case, his depression stemming from perhaps the Parkinson’s that was debilitating him… or some other deep-seeded reason). 

Williams was a beloved actor, writer and comedian; but he was human. He was prone to the same shortcomings that we all are. Let’s remember to good he did, but not forget why he passed away, nor lose sight of the lesson his passing can impart on us. 

I am not someone who believe that everything happens for a greater good; but I do feel that we can make good out of a poor situation depending on the narrative we tell ourselves. Make it a point to reach out and talk to someone who keeps themselves guarded: and damn well be prepared for them when they open themselves up! 

When asked about death

11. Gaining a new life skill

Childhood vs. Adolescence

In my line of work the greatest challenge is to get young people interested in taking on challenges. There is always resistance.

I remember reading an article (citation will be found once searched) that said that when we were all little kids, 12 and younger, we loved taking on challenges and did not particularly care for what those around us thought of us. Playing video games as a kid was a chance to explore ways to manipulate the laws of the game universe to win. But something weird happens when we become teenagers.

Our brains requires social acceptance. In middle school and high school, teen culture teaches us what those around us think matters. We started to question our judgement and look to those around us for approval.

Personal story segment

I vividly recall a group of so-called popular girls in grade eight who criticized my friend’s economic outfit in comparison to my Adidas gear. But my friend felt devastated and even though I stood up for her, I could not help but feel a little elated in the recognition of my “threads”. It is not something I look back on fondly; my current self wants to slap my past self. But that is the way socialization works.

Stopping the cycle

We need to realize that what others around us think does not matter. When it comes to gaining life skills, others’ mockery should never play any part because their limitations and their willingness to act as sheep will contain their life experiences in a very narrow field of play. For those who wish to expand their life experiences, we need to first recognize that we only have one life to live and we have to make the most of it in the here and now.

Steps to take

This means that we must first want to commit to a personal goal.

Next, we must start the learning process, and simultaneously realize that it will not be an easy road. If we’re still in are early to mid twenties, our brain has not completely finished developing its prefrontal cortex. As such, we can still learn many complex things, including languages, math skills, and playing an instrument. However, even if we’re past the point of maximum cerebral elasticity, the brain can still learn, though, not nearly as quickly as it would have earlier. But we must recognize this in order to progress to the next step.

Practice regularly and have specific targets in mind. Learning the piano? Pick an easy piece (like Chopsticks… or Ruff Ryders’ Anthem) and practice it ad nauseum to the point of near mastery.

As you get better, pick much more complex works and try them out. You may feel like you have plateaued, but don’t let it discourage you. You might not be the best musician, or linguist, or mathematician, but you will at least have done well for yourself.

Keep it up, Ace! You’re on your way!

A more detailed article can be found here at lifehacker.com.

Don’t remember what it was like being a kid and having first time experiences? Put yourselves in her shoes: