Robin Williams. His name alone evokes so many emotions, feelings, and memories. For those of us who only knew him through the frame of entertainment, and not personally, we knew him as an icon. An icon who felt strangely familiar – as if he was a friend. Depending on your age, you may identify with Williams at different points in your life. Whether you grew up watching “Mork & Mindy” or spent your youth replaying “Friend Like Me” over and over again in the wake of your obsession with Aladdin, he left an impact on you. Being born in the late 80s and raised as a true ‘child of the 90s,’ I fall in the second camp, although I do remember catching bits of “Mork & Mindy” on Nick at Nite and having my mom yell from the kitchen that she loved that show when she was young, encouraging me to watch his zany antics and contagious energy.
Williams’ streak of comedy hits in the 90s made him a household legend for us young ones at the time. By the time high school came around it was finally appropriate to watch Good Will Hunting and go back to Good Morning Vietnam and of course, Dead Poets Society – one of the best films to don the ‘mandatory-viewing’ label in English class.
Having watched clips of Williams during the many tributes this past week, and re-watching such films as The Birdcage and Jumanji, I realize now, in the wake of his passing, what it is that has made him such a riveting human being to watch throughout the years. It’s simple really. It’s in his eyes. Williams’ eyes can transport you to a place of complete joy and utter heartbreak, often in the same moment. But his eyes do something more – they reflect a humanity that is so relatable. You can see the melancholy, the yearning, the happiness. Everything. There’s something truly beautiful about his ability to emit such emotion in each and every performance. It’s cheesy to say, but there’s a true twinkle in his eyes. That twinkle brings poignancy to the human condition. And yes, the human condition comes with its struggles and hardships, but it also comes with its highs. And luckily, by simply watching him, he brought highs to so many of us. To that, we are grateful.