Seeing a lot of positive / negative comments on Robin Williams – You can’t judge a person when you don’t what it’s like to be them.
I met Robin Williams once – while attending a show at The Horseshoe a friend said he just got a text saying Robin Williams was just about to do standup at the Oasis on College. We quickly hopped in cabs and headed straight there and headed to the back room where the comedy takes placer. It was a small room with a feel and look similar to a basement.
Robin Williams had already started and was hiding a sheet (tablecloth?) in front of him so people trying to take photos / video wouldn’t get anything but a sheet. He was adamant that people put their phones away before he started and proceeded to heckle a person in the front row holding his camera up. Eventually everyone abided and he proceeded to put on an improvised show for the now packed small room. It was amazing to see such a legend in this type of setting. That week Robin actually ended up hitting a number of small venues – seemed like he was itching to do stand up again or maybe he was seeing if he still had it. Everything was improvised.
After the “show” he went into the front room where people were able to go up and say hi. I went up and said hi and that I have a special request. My girlfriend at the time was home sick and I told Robin that it would make her day if he gave her a phone call. He was all over it – I dialled the phone and when she answered I said there was someone that wanted to talk to her. He grabbed the phone from me and said that he had heard she was under the weather. I could tell that she respond with something similar to “who is this”. He simply said Robin Williams. She didn’t believe him or asked something like “The Robin Williams?”. He then went into his improve mode and made her day.
We then did shots of tequila and off he went s the crowd was growing to a size that wouldn’t be easy to handle in a small club.
He was gracious, polite and caring.
“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
Old time is still a flying
and this same flower that smiles today
tomorrow will be dying”
Personally his film, Dead Poets Society, made a huge impact on me at an early age – I was at a young age when a person is still figuring it all out. I was a musician and into art + writing at the time. There was a scene that stood out and I still think of it to this day. It is where his character, a teacher for a boys school, is breaking from the conformity of the school lesson to impress upon the boys how important living in the moment is as well as grabbing life and making the most of it as we are all destined for death. Carpe diem! Seize the day.
“Did they wait until it was too late… make your lives extraordinary”
The movie has so many messages that I could relate with, so much I took the movie to my mom and said if she wants to understand me she would watch it. I don’t think she ever did which was disappointing but such is life.
From that day I decided to not follow the rules of everyone else, I chose to make my life extraordinary – or at least try.
Oddly enough I became an instructor (graphics / web design) later on and I didn’t follow the rules of the school either but did what I felt was needed to help the students make it in the real world working environment. Too many instructors teach just the rules but not how things actually work.
I’ve also been self employed for some time as I make for an employee that doesn’t really follow the rules. One prime example was when working for HMV I was assigned special orders which had three copies to file – one of which I didn’t understand why we needed and why I had to dedicate so much of my time to filing when I could be working on something more important. I told the manager about ti and that we should stop wasting time on it. She disagreed and said I had to keep up with the old way. I went back to my post and started filing – within about 60 seconds I was fed up with it – pulled out the garbage can and swiftly in one arm stroke shovelled them all into the garbage. I then proceeded to go bcd to the managers office and informed her that they were indeed al filed in the garbage and that I can get on with more important tasks and that she should be impressed that it took only 60 seconds to file about 100 forms.
I didn’t last much longer after that but when it came to it – I quit on the spot, not knowing or having a freakin clue what was next or how I was going to support myself. Here I am and I’m doing ok – that moment was the best in my life – I have bee free ever since and I’ve improvised the rest after that.
So I feel a need to thank Mr. Robin Williams for giving a message of courage to be unique, try new things and go out on a limb to have a rewarding life. I sure am grateful for the travels and experiences I’ve had including the one meeting him.