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Oh Captains, My Captains

My Captain
Photo by Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images

I was deeply saddened when I heard about the death of Robin Williams. I immediately realized that I had lost the last of the comedic trio which had fostered my love for comedy. For me and many of my generation Robin Williams, Richard Pryor and George Carlin were the prophetic voices which defined satire and humor for millions. Each in their own unique way paved the path for the future of so many comedians who followed. They were able to translate the realities of the moment into mental images that not only kept us laughing, but also exposed our petty squabbles and absurd behaviors for the meaningless and ridiculous activities they were.

All three mastered the ability to poke fun at the outrageous conduct so many of us take so seriously. George showed just how silly the words were that we spoke to each other; Robin illustrated just how ludicrous the actions were that we used against each other; and Richard exposed just how disingenuous we were towards each other. These icons taught us all that life was to be enjoyed and savored, not taken too seriously, because if we could not laugh at ourselves, we would lose the essence of what we are all given.

For this reason, I am profoundly distressed. If men who could so eloquently communicate this message when on stage could not see the value in their own lives, what is the rest of us to do? In every performance, whether on stage or before the camera, Robin, Richard and George presented a clear simplistic almost innocent image of how life should be. We know now that it was only during performances was life truly that way. They could not find a path in their real lives which gave them the peace and happiness, each so loudly articulated. They resorted to drugs and alcohol to provide the escape from their realities. Finally, after fighting the internal battles and their own personal demons, each were taken away too soon.

We are now left merely with the memories of their comedic ramblings. Although they were not able to use their profound thoughts to lighten their difficult moments, we should all take a second during our most stressful times and remember a performance which could shed some light on an otherwise dark situation. Oh captains, My captains, you will truly be missed.

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