A lump forms in our throats as John Keating, a young English teacher, packs his personal items. He has been expelled from school for having taught his students to think independently and outside of the shackles of a rigid education system. Even as the principal shouts at them, one by one, his students stand up on their desks as a tribute to him — a reminder to always see things from a different perspective. The movie ends.
Like the English teacher that he portrayed in “Dead Poets Society”, Robin Williams was never going to have it easy in life. Blessed with an abundance of talent and intelligence that enabled him to mimic and improvise, he was destined to be a misfit.
Being a stand-up comedian and actor helped Williams channelize some of his energy and talent. But it was in cocaine and alcohol that he found a place to hide. From himself. From the pain. From his demons. From the voices. From what he saw as his own failures.
Even as he fought his addictions and his demons, Robin Williams would continue to enthrall audiences with the freshness of his comedy and the raw emotion of his dramatics. If “Mrs Doubtfire” filled us with the warmth of his humor, “Good Will Hunting” touched us with the gentleness of his compassion. With effort and time, he would conquer his addictions but sadly, never his own insecurities.
Through his work, Robin Williams taught a generation of impressionable youngsters to challenge the norm. He taught us to think for ourselves. He taught us to be compassionate and thoughtful. He taught us to laugh. He taught us the meaning of carpe diem. He taught us that it was alright to be different. He taught us to accept ourselves as we were. Sadly for the world, he was unable to accept himself.
Will you conquer your pain to make a difference to the world?