Tuesday, August 12, 2014

~ RIP Robin Williams and A Wonderful Article by Anne Lamott ~

 Sharing a beautiful article by Anne Lamott ~

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: http://www.bringchange2mind.org/ 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.


  1. Thanks for sharing the article Pat.

  2. In a few days, I will probably write a post and link back to your post. As a sufferer of Bipolar Depression, I know that it is a day by day, sometimes moment by moment journey. I had a blog called the Upside of Down until a week or so ago. Someone read it and posted a very hurtful comment on my facebook page about one of my posts. Someone who misunderstands my need to take care of myself. Her words were open slander about me and read, "We have tried to reach out, but have been rejected. We now find that the relationship is toxic and we can not continue to deal with the "mentally ill." It sent me spiraling downward. My children were furious and they have been a continued support to me. The Christian world doesn't understand it, the medical community says, "Don't tell anyone." It's sad. I loved Robin Williams. He challenged me and encouraged me to reach for the heights. His work like Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting and Patch Adams were works of hope and encouragement. I am a Christian and I still understand the bondage of this terrible disease. I am so saddened by his death. Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts. Bonnie

  3. Good thoughts.....thank you for sharing it. We were - and still are - stunned! May this article help us see with new eyes the struggles we are all going through and reach out to help and encourage.

  4. Pat,

    Thank you so much for sharing this. My heart is so sad. Truly. He brought laughter with him wherever he went.


  5. Thank you for sharing this, my friend. We all have such human frailties, don't we? We never know what torture another person is dealing with within their soul. xo

  6. What a beautifully written article - I touched briefly on an episode I once had with depression on a post I did the day after he passed.
    We so desperately need open dialogue about this - a broken spirit is far worse than a broken limb.
    Thanks so much for sharing Pat


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