When I heard of the passing of Robin Williams, I was a bit surprised at my emotional response. It’s always sad when someone dies. And while I felt sad when other celebrities have passed away, Robin’s passing felt more personal. I'll openly admit that I've never cried when I heard of a celebrity’s death. Felt the loss? Yes. Felt that terrible clench in my stomach? Yes again. But, I actually cried for the loss of Robin Williams. And not just tears trickling down my cheeks either.
Part of the reason that it hit me differently than other famous deaths, is that I grew up with his voice in my home. Whether it was Aladdin, Fern Gulley, Hook or Jumanji, we were watching it. Then I grew to appreciate his appearances in movies like Patch Adams, Dead Poet’s Society and Jakob the Liar (quite possibly one of his best films ever). I was familiar with his emotional trials, and as someone who has long struggled with depression, I empathized with him.
But, I believe a bigger reason this struck me so hard is because I was already feeling let down. It had been a hard day. With news of an impending surgery that would drain our vacation fund (and more) and feelings of frustration and irritation with my kids, quickly followed by guilt for feeling so cranky with my kids, I was already thinking about how I didn't feel like I was really living the life I wanted to live.
His passing opened a floodgate of emotions about the fragility of life, and even more guilty feelings because I’m upset about a financial setback when other people are struggling with much more difficult things.
It isn't that I don't enjoy my life. I love my husband and my children. I love them more than anything in this world. It’s just that feeling like you are running on a treadmill. You aren't really going anywhere even though you keep moving and sweating and pushing.
I've been trying to make a lot of big changes in my life, from healthy habit changes, to a more focused spiritual life, more organization in my work life, and more patience and focus when I’m with my kids. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed and to lose sight of what’s really important.
As I was reflecting this morning, a quote from the film Hook popped in my head. In the film, Peter (Robin Williams) has returned from Neverland and Wendy says to him “So…. Your adventures are over.” To which Peter responds, “Oh no. To live…. To live would be an awfully big adventure.” And I realized the importance of what Peter learned and what Robin Williams taught us. Living is an adventure.
When we embrace the idea of life as an adventure, complete with our very own Captain Hooks and monsters to battle, as well as our own treasure to find and places to explore, it becomes less about getting to the “next thing” or the “when’s” and more about accepting each part of our adventure as it is.
Sometimes our adventure is full of heartbreak, devastation and pain. And sometimes those adventures are too overwhelming for someone to handle. But sometimes, many times, our adventures are full of beauty. Yes, we’ll likely have to postpone the vacation we've been talking about and planning for months and yes, I’m not a perfect mother. I don’t have my crap together all (or even most) of the time. But, there is also a lot of beauty in my every day.
Instead of focusing on the things we cannot control and feeling guilty about natural, human emotions, it’s time to start living. Stop making excuses for not getting what you want. Setbacks are a part of every adventure. If getting to the end of our adventure were too easy, it would be quite a boring adventure.
While we mourn the loss of a fantastic artist, we should also embrace our own adventures and face our personal pirates with the bravery of a grown up Peter Pan.