You ever have one of those moments of clarity that stop you in your tracks? What about moments of clarity like that in really inopportune moments? What about having an existential crisis while at a comedy showcase where the 3 front row seats cleared out and left you and your fiance as the two people to whom the comedians “play off of” for the entire show? I was trapped between wanting to zone out and retreat into my mind palace – that phrase is some neckbeard shit. Fuck it. Fuck you – and wanting to give the comedian the attention they deserved. I couldn’t be thousand-yard staring into nothing while they do their set. So I split the time between both, like a child between divorced parents.
It was at some point during the penultimate comic’s set that I was able to synthesize a couple of things. The night before, Fia and I watched a documentary on Robin William’s life and career. Highly, highly recommended for the depressed creative inside all of us. The final line of the film was especially poignant, and couldn’t have framed the impetus behind Robin’s suicide in a more apt way. The film closes with a prophesizing quote from Robin, the paraphrase of which goes along the lines of “don’t lose sight of what makes you laugh; that’s what keeps you alive.” This lens on Robin’s final years – given to the audience at the close of the film – imparts a sober take on why Robin may have taken his own life. As he aged, and his health deteriorated, Robin’s closest friends noted a “change” in him. As if the spark itself was gone. The Robin they had knew seemed to have taken a backseat to this more reserved, introspective Robin. I feel like I know, relate, and am fearful of why that might have been.
It’s not a groundbreaking theory, but my feeling is that Robin used comedy throughout his life as a form of self-medication from the depression he was afflicted with. That dopamine hit, those endorphins rushing into your brain, are a way to distract from the pain. It’s the same ones that flood in when you exercise. Or do drugs. Or drink alcohol – I think. Don’t quote me on that last one. But when Robin lost that ‘spark,’ he lost the ward he was constantly throwing up in between himself and his depression. In a dichotomous, twisted sort of way, I don’t think one of the greatest comedians on the planet would have existed had he not been a deeply tortured individual. Had Robin Williams ‘solved’ his depression, he would have ceased to be Robin Williams. His output was the result of creative fervor spurned by a need to mask pain.
I’ll cut to the chase because I’m tired of being awake: I was sitting in the theater, listening to this comic do his set. I had the following thoughts:
Once he stopped laughing, he quickly began dying.
There’s only so much solace I can take in the thought that “oh, he must’ve been much worse than me. After all, he killed himself and I haven’t.” Yeah, but I also haven’t started outputting in a way that shields myself from the pain of it. I’ve seen – and blogged about – what happens when part of what I live for is threatened. I felt like Fia and I might be splitting up for the good of us both that night, and I wanted to die. Genuinely. The thought “I have too much to accomplish, I can’t go yet” didn’t even cross my mind.
Our relationship has grown since then, and I think we’re on a good path for both of us as both individuals and a team, but the fact remains. I wanted to end it there – I titled this document and everything. But that’s just not fucking pithy enough. I’m too much of a genius to leave it without some kind of tag.
Spider-Man is pretty dope.