Archive for August 2014

anne lamott on robin williams

This will not be well written or contain any answers or be very charming. I won’t be able to proof read it It is about times like today when the abyss is visible and we cannot buy cute area rugs at IKEA to truck out the abyss. Our brother Robin fell into it yesterday. We are all staring at the abyss today.

I called my Jesuit friend the day after the shootings in Newtown, stunned, flat, fixated, scared to death: “Is there any meaning in the deaths of twenty 5 and 6 year old children?”

Tom said, “Not yet.”

And there is no meaning in Robin’s death, except as it sheds light on our common humanity, as his life did. But I’ve learned that there can be meaning without things making sense.

Here is what is true: a third of the people you adore and admire in the world and in your families have severe mental illness and/or addiction. I sure do. I have both. And you still love me. You help hold me up. I try to help hold you up. Half of the people I love most have both; and so do most of the artists who have changed and redeemed me, given me life. Most of us are still here, healing slowly and imperfectly. Some days are way too long.

And I hate that, I want to say. I would much prefer that God have a magic wand, and not just a raggedy love army of helpers. Mr. Roger’s mother told him when he was a boy, and a tragedy was unfolding that seemed to defy meaning, “Look to the helpers.” That is the secret of life, for Robin’s family, for you and me.

I knew that those children at Sandy Hook were caught in God’s loving maternal arms at the second each crossed over, and the teachers were, too. I believe the shooter was too, another child of God with severe mental illness, because God loves, period. But this is controversial.

I know Robin was caught too, in both the arms of God, and of his mother, Laurie.

I knew them both when I was coming up, in Tiburon. He lived three blocks away on Paradise drive. His family had money; ours didn’t. But we were in the same boat–scared, shy, with terrible self esteem and grandiosity. If you have a genetic predisposition towards mental problems and addiction, as Robin and I did, life here feels like you were just left off here one day, with no instruction manual, and no idea of what you were supposed to do; how to fit in; how to find a day’s relief from the anxiety, how to keep your beloved alive; how to stay one step ahead of abyss.

We all thought after Newtown that gun control legislation would be passed, but no–not one new law. We think in the aftermath of Robin’s death that there will be consciousness raising about mental health, but I doubt it. The shock and awe will pass, like it did after Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death. Unless…unless we take action. But what? I don’t have a clue. Well, here’s Glenn Close’s astonishing organization to raise awareness and diminish the stigma of mental illness, where you can give OR receive help: Go there, OK?

In Newtown, as in all barbarity and suffering, in Robin’s death, on Mount Sinjar, in the Ebola towns, the streets of India’s ghettos, and our own, we see Christ crucified. I don’t mean that in a nice, Christian-y way. I mean that in the most ultimate human and existential way. The temptation is to say, as cute little believers sometimes do, Oh it will all make sense someday. The thing is, it may not. We still sit with scared, dying people; we get the thirsty drinks of water.

This was at theologian Fred Buechner blog today: “It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling.”

Live stories worth telling! Stop hitting the snooze button. Try not to squander your life on meaningless, multi-tasking bullshit. I would shake you and me but Robin is shaking us now.

Get help. I did. Be a resurrection story, in the wild non-denominational sense. I am.

If you need to stop drinking or drugging, I can tell you this: you will be surrounded by arms of love like you have never, not once, imagined. This help will be available twenty/seven. Can you imagine that in this dark scary screwed up world, that I can promise you this? That we will never be closed, if you need us?

Gravity yanks us down, even a man as stunning in every way as Robin. We need a lot of help getting back up. And even with our battered banged up tool boxes and aching backs, we can help others get up, even when for them to do so seems impossible or at least beyond imagining. Or if it can’t be done, we can sit with them on the ground, in the abyss, in solidarity. You know how I always say that laughter is carbonated holiness? Well, Robin was the
ultimate proof of that, and bubbles are spirit made visible.
43,506 SharesLike

from the president

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. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams.

a friends poem – moved me so

Ok I have run away
For the day
Into town
Away from Dad’s frown

Now to examine myself
Am I insane?
Dad will drive me there
Even if I am not
Smother me
With his ridiculous accusations

My world is a dream
That is a problem
But it’s bordering on reality
So I hope
So I believe
Which is where the problem lies
I do actually believe
In this dream world

I do believe
In illogical things
That could be diagnosed as madness

I am ashamed
Of what I have come to believe in:
Because it is not as I have been programmed
Because it is an alien world to my parents
And my family

I am addicted
To Music
I am addicted
To Spirituality
I am addicted
To Love
I am addicted
To Art
I am addicted
To the Beauty of Soul
Is this so strange?
Is this worthy
Of Psychological Analysis
Psychiatric Help?
Is this wrong?
Should I be condemned
To an institution for this?

The only right way to live
According to my father’s directives
And ingrained beliefs
Generations of handed down doctrines:
Academic success is Life

I disagree
For me
It doesn’t fully fit
It leaves something unanswered in me
It leaves me dissatisfied
To believe in education/university
As survival, as real life
As healthy living

I have my faults
My mind is very open
But is that a fault?
I embrace life
In every shape and form
And wrap myself in it
I am very impressionable
I am devoted to Natural Things
Thus I am completely misunderstood
Especially by my father
It is this struggle
That I am left here today
Fighting for my right to be free
To be let live in this world
Until I find
The direction
I wish to go
And succeed in living
And not to be sent to a shrink

It is demeaning
To be thought of
As a fucked up being
As mentally unstable
I do not believe it myself anymore
But sometimes
It’s hard not to
When your own father
Smothers and suffocates you with such thoughts

I am fighting
The pains of a programmed upbringing
As everybody does to degrees
My fault may lie
In doing this a little more than others
But I do it
Because I am able to

Life is a struggle
If I didn’t get depressed or low
And disillusioned
From time to time
Then I am not human

By sending me to a psychiatrist Dad
You are showing me a lack of respect
You are demeaning me as a person
Who I consider to be a qualified human being

Before this
I was half afraid
I may be mad
But now
I believe I am not
To diagnose me as mad
Would be doing a tyrannical injustice
It could be compared to
Committing Jews to a concentration camp
The most recognised injustice

I have lost respect for you
Because you are showing me little
By treating me as you do
You are hurting me
Brainwashing me with your negative thoughts
To create inferior ripples within me
That I have to exorcise
With tears
Every time

I can not talk to you
Because YOU are not going to change
All you can ever do
Is accept me as I am
Someone you can’t fully relate to
The thing is you don’t need to

All you need to do is
Accept me
Love me as much as you can
And stop frowning on me
Just because
I molded myself away from your
Conditioned idea of approaching life

I know
That there are things you understand
About spirituality and psychology etc.
But you do not feel them
The difference lies forever there
It is just the way we are
No one is to blame for this
Everyone is unique
Call me a black sheep
But I’d prefer to think of myself
As a rainbow sheep

I have many colors
And not few
I use my many colors
And not my few
I use what I have been given
In my thoughts and in my actions
In my apparently “dull” lifestyle

The cold frustration returns
Cos although it is a frantic effort
To achieve your understanding
I know I never will
Some questions can’t be answered
Some answers can’t be worded
They lie as knowledge
Not necessarily wisdom
But as a “knowing”

Not everything is black and white
Some things have many colors
They cannot be termed as just one

Our conflict
Lies in the difference
Between the logical world
And the natural world
I am in both
You are in the logical
And see the natural
I am in the natural
And the logical

You question me
You question everything I do
Unjustly and unnecessarily

I am not happy
At home
When you make me feel
Like a disappointment
By your vibes
By questioning my every move
Or apparent lack of movement

Lack of money
Is another reason
I seem unmotivated
If I had more money
I could do “productive” things

You do not understand
The GUILT factor
That money is in my life

How money is spoken about at home
The pain of taking ANY
Even for my birthday
Was incredibly painful

I felt guilty
Like I do not deserve any money
Any freedom
Any enjoyment
You make me feel unworthy
Not just of money
But of a gift

Your letter
Made me cry
Because you just reinforced
Your feelings of ongoing disappointment in me
Making me feel still inferior and unloved

I know you care for me
But you don’t love me
Because you can’t allow yourself to
Or you won’t love me
You won’t accept me
For who I am

Accept me now for who I am
That’s all I ask
And even if you can’t
I shall prove myself
A worthy, successful individual
Whether you believe it or not

I am not destroying myself
I am not killing myself
I am not subconsciously
Plotting my suicide
I am not MAD
I should not be considered a disappointment
That is not fair to treat me like that


So ALL I ask for is your respect
And for you to try to accept me
And love me a little more.