Make 'em laugh, make 'em have a good time and point out the absurd....do all that and they won't take notice of everything you hate about yourself. That's not a quote. That's the way I lived a lot of my life. Self-confidence never my forte, I lived looking for a thousand diversions to take people's attention away from what I thought they saw and put it, instead, on how darn entertaining and funny I can be (even if, on the inside, I thought myself to be one pathetic creature.) As long as they thought I was fun I could fight my own demons.
And that's a word I've heard thrown around a lot in the last 24 hours - "Demons." Very trendy. Very psycho-babble. . But something I fear that, sadly, is only associated with poor souls that have taken drastic measures. "They were fighting demons." "Here he is, discussing his own demons." Hell! We're ALL souls living inside very finite, physical vessels! I would think that we're ALL fighting enemies that would seek to destroy by trying to teach us to define ourselves in very temporal terms.
I grew up in a suburb of Atlanta that in a lot of ways was the "touch of country in the city" about which the Atlanta Rhythm Section sang so eloquently. I went to school, to church, to Boy Scouts, to the grocery store, to the barber shop and to the doctor with a lot of the same folks. But, in each of those locales, there existed different caste systems, each independent of the others. For instance, there were folks that would worship, sing and pray with me at church. But at school - there in the world of student councils, cheerleaders, drill teams, exclusive lunch tables, clubs and homecoming dances - they were forbidden from recognizing me as a living creature. I warranted a fleeting glance in hallways between classes - "I know you, but you understand I can't talk to you here, right?" It was in THAT world I learned to entertain people. It was in that world that a literature teacher first taught me the concept of the sad clown. Sad that - at such an innocent age - I could closely identify with what being a sad clown was all about.
Often the price of a creative mind is that it's nothing but a sponge. It absorbs all that it sees and hears and there are no barriers to what it will let inside itself. Unfortunately, the downside to that is that often the sad creeps in along with all the good stuff. Even if you can hear the laughter and the accolades you can also hear the jeers, coming mostly from yourself and the aforementioned demons. And sometimes the bad stuff wins. Sometimes you believe them when they tell you you're fighting battles you'll never win and that - despite the applause - you ain't about all that. If you've fought them your whole life, sometimes you don't want to fight anymore.
So, yet again, we're burdened with sadness because someone whose day to day existence is light years from our own is now gone. We wonder why we're so sad. But then we realize that it's because their craft became something that diverted our attention away from our own realities. Thanks for that, Robin Williams. Maybe you were tired and had no more craft to give. Maybe the sad clown just wanted to go somewhere and smile just for the sake of smiling...not because it was his job to make the rest of us smile.