I first became across Robin Williams when I was in Junior High. I watched him on Happy Days and then loved watching him on Mork and Mindy. As a young teenager I would join other boys in bugging the girls by saying “Nano, Nano.”
He was appropriately cast as Mork as Robin Williams was practically an alien. He was so brilliant and so funny that it wouldn’t have been surprising if he had been born on another planet. When I saw him and laughed I wasn’t sure if I was laughing at his amazing routines or laughing in disbelief at how his incredible mind worked.
I saw many of his movies—Aladdin, Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Morning Vietnam, Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams, World’s Greatest Dad and Night at the Movies. Though he played a character he was unmistakably Robin Williams in a character. When the genie came out of the model in Aladdin it was Robin Williams. He was a genie.
In the last few years I especially came to appreciate his compassion. I would watch the sitcom, The Crazy Ones just to see how he would treat others. His compassion for his daughter in the sitcom seemed to be his own compassion. His message towards the end of this life seemed to be less about his own genius—though he couldn’t hide it—and more about the message of family & friends and treating them well.
I knew that Robin Williams had gone through treatment for cocaine and alcoholism, but like many never knew that he suffered from mental illness. I was shocked last night to learn that he took his own life.
The world is a lesser place today than it was yesterday. When Robin Williams was at his best his brilliance was about helping others. Once I got beyond the “wow, how does his mind work so fast” to feeling his compassion for others, I came to experience the essence of who he was. Rest in Peace, Robin Williams. I wish you were still with us.