For Robin Williams
Have you ever had a long-awaited dream come true? Was it everything
you hoped for? Yes, in a way, but probably not. Probably there were
moments when your dream became a nightmare, probably maybe waking up
to the baby crying in the middle of the night was the biggest regret
of your life, maybe the once dreamy eyes of your spouse have become
dull now that their starry/stupid gaze is all yours, maybe moving to
the City of Lights got you into the psych ward for Paris Syndrome-
where when romantic dreams meet reality, minds are broken with the
weight of expectations.
And there are moments when we finally get that degree, and it still
feels like nothing. Just a piece of paper, a total crock now that you
have it. As Groucho Marx said, “I wouldn’t want to be in any club that
would except me as a member.” When you get that first real corporate
job, and you find that white collar professionals are not actually
that smart, that organized, that neat, or as perfect as you imagined-
that standards are low and not always met, that a name brand doesn’t
guarantee good management. And then you realize that there is chaos
and confusion and Brooklyn bridges, Nigerian princes, and a false bill
of goods everywhere. This is when you grow cynical.
And you think you should stop dreaming dreams, that you were as
foolish as anyone ever said or didn’t even dare to voice, you are just
as stupid as that mean little voice in your head always tells you, you
are a loser no matter what you’ve won or how much you’ve packed on to
your resume, it isn’t enough. And it’s time to stop dreaming, to grow
up and pursue the things that “they” say will bring your life meaning.
Hell, anyone probably knows better than you do- who are you to dare
question conventional wisdom?
Go to school and spend your life’s savings before you make it, get a
job, get a better job, get a better job, buy a car, buy a better car,
buy an even better car, buy a big house to impress the neighbors you
don’t have time to meet, have a big wedding and a messy divorce, make
a baby and send it to the nanny, take a family picture while they are
still magazine-cover cute then spend them to the most expensive school
And then, like a thief, Death knocks on the door, rattling the window.
Maybe it’s a minor sprain, a fall in the bushes that takes you off
your feet for a few weeks, or maybe it’s the death of Robin Williams,
the kindest, wisest, funniest man in the world, by his own hand. Or
maybe you read in the paper about the parent of someone you know
passing, died too young, and all of a sudden, everything changes. The
finiteness of your mortal life gives you a glimpse of your eternal and
infinite gift of life.
You breathe a sigh, thankful it’s not your time yet, thankful you
still have a few moments with the ones you love, and the chance to see
the Pyramids and the Eiffel Tower, and maybe fall in love, for real
this time, and start your own family.
Suddenly the grass is no longer greener on the other side, and life is
so incredibly good, despite the mosquitoes that weren’t there in the
garden of Eden you’d created in your mind. The life you imagined is
actually pretty great, and you’re incredibly grateful for having the
chance to realise it, to have seen it become real. Even though you
think, suddenly cosmically Zen and one with the universe, that even if
it hadn’t worked out the way you wanted, it would have been good and
you would have made it good.
And your life is just this mosaic of incredible moments like beads on
a string, even though the big story line isn’t the one you had
envisioned. Even though so much of it was out of your control, and the
best parts happened when nothing went along with your plan. And the
best moment of all is right now, when you realize it and love life
more than the meaning of it, as Doestoevsky admonished.
And the next dream is worth dreaming, and this moment is worth living
even though it’s far from perfect. And all that has come in the past
can stay in the past, but you’re grateful anyway. All that really
matters is that you live your truth and make sure the important people
know you love them, anyway. Somehow all that wondering about who am I
and what do I want seems to fade away in an acceptance of all that you
have become and all that you are becoming. “Think not God is in your
heart, child, rather you’re in the heart of God,” sang the prophet
Kahlil Gibran, set to music by Jason Mraz.
The moment of acceptance, of receptivity, is also the moment when you
finally get to say, “I am,” and like the still small voice in the
breeze after the the hurricane, the fire, and the earthquake, all is
well. All Creation is groaning in labor pains, and the powerful play
goes on, and you are swelled with joy and pride, that you may
contribute a verse.
You turn back to the daily heartbreak of life, and sigh with joy.