Age of the Geek
Some of us do have a friend like him. Let's take care of them.
Robin Williams has us all thinking about suicide.
Not necessarily of committing the act of course. I'm sad he's gone, but not that sad. Instead, Williams' death has sparked a lot of thought about the problems that can drive somebody to commit the most definitive of acts, and what the rest of us can do to help them.
I've never thought much of suicide myself. Not that the idea has never crossed my mind. I have my low points in life, just like I imagine everybody else does at one time or another. But suicide, in many situations, is a permanent answer to a temporary problem.
There are those that would say suicide is the coward's way out. That it's a selfish act that does nothing but exchange your pain for the pain of your closest loved ones. In most cases I would agree.
Particularly in Williams' case, it's hard to feel sympathy for a man who accomplished so much. He had a wife and three children that loved him. Millions that never knew him personally would jump at the opportunity to do so.
He had a career that most entertainers can only dream of. He was a comedic superstar, an Academy Award winner, and even if he didn't always pick the best projects to be in, he was generally the best thing about them.
He lived better than most ever had or ever will. What was he so depressed about? It defies all logic!
Which, of course, misses the point. The fact is that he was depressed, he had been for a long time, and logic had little to do with it.
Ironically, it's likely that the depression that ended his life was also what brought him to such heights in the first place. It's not an uncommon paradox among comedians. Like so many entertainers, his pain was the fuel that powered his incredible comedic talent, and if Williams was known for anything it was that he always ran with a full tank.
From his stand-up to his acting career to his real-life appearances, Williams was always "on." If he was using humor to fight his demons, he did it all day, every day.
It's impossible to tell where Williams' suicide would place on a scale of "terminal cancer patient" to "I got dumped before prom," but with the revelation that he was in the early stages of Parkinson's disease, it's safe to say that Williams was not suffering from temporary problems.
Williams may have been beyond help, but there are a lot of people that aren't. If you've been in his shoes, then please consider the following…
I am an atheist, and as such I occasionally get asked what makes life worth living if I don't believe in an afterlife.
This is the way I see things.
We live on planet Earth, which orbits a star.
This star is one of 300,000,000,000 stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
The Milky Way itself is one of 500,000,000,000 galaxies in the observable universe.
The universe is 14 billion years old and vast beyond comprehension. The entirety of human civilization exists within the last .000001% of the universe's history, and my nearly 30 years falls within the last .002% of that.
So, in the grandest of schemes, when you consider the enormity of the universe, nothing really matters. Nothing we do or don't do will have any notable effect on the universe at all.
That sounds depressing, I know, but it really isn't. Because if nothing else matters, then the only meaning in life is the meaning that you decide to give it.
Life is the opportunity to experience a fraction of infinity before shuffling back to the void of nothingness. That in itself is a gift beyond value.
And yes, life can get bad, but even the bad times serve a purpose. Without them there'd be nothing to contrast with the good.
When it does get bad, I think back to a quote from a good book.
Specifically, a Spider-Man comic.
"The truth, that no matter how I feel, as long as I breathe, there is hope."
Immediately after saying that, Spider-Man punches a demon. It's a shame that everybody's demons can't be fought so directly, but that's part of the experience.
So enjoy it all, because the alternative literally gets you nothing.
Travis Fischer is a news writer for Mid-America Publishing.