Few humans have been more gifted at making others laugh than Robin Williams. Our children loved the Disney movie Aladdin with Williams as the irrepressible and hilarious genie. Williams was also a comic geni-us. I remember the first time I saw the TV show Mork and Mindy. I laughed as I’d seldom laughed before. Mork was an alien who arrived from the planet Ork in a small, egg-shaped spaceship and hearing his razor-sharp rapid-fire humour was like riding a roller coaster of hilarity. We are all created in God’s image and God gave Robin Williams a gift to make millions laugh.
“Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?” he once asked. And, “If women ran the world, we wouldn’t have wars, just intense negotiations.” But like the genie in Aladdin who spent thousands of years trapped in a bottle, Williams was trapped in another kind of bottle, battling depression, drugs and alcohol. In his battle to do what was right, he checked himself into rehab, admitting, “Cocaine for me was a place to hide.” In July of 2014, with four movies scheduled to release, he checked himself into an Addiction Treatment Center once again. A month later, Williams took his own life, leaving a wife and three children.
I think the news of his death hit me so hard because every time I saw him perform I had the nagging sense that I knew how this going to end. Several people that I love most in this life battle depression. Laugh again? Oh sometimes they laugh, it’s a lifesaver, but this valley is no laughing matter. I’ve walked in it a little myself and sometimes my sense of humour is a coping mechanism. For Williams, being adored, famous and rich couldn’t bring what he most wanted. Like the genie he wanted to be free.
A man once told his doctor, “I’m depressed, lonely and anxious.” “The best thing you can do,” said the doctor, “is go to the circus and watch the great clown. He will make you laugh and you’ll feel much better.” The man burst into tears. “But doctor,” he said. “I am the clown.”
Another man battled depression. He asked often, “Why so downcast oh my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” But King David knew where to turn. In Psalm 42 he wrote, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.” I don’t want to over-simplify anything. If you are depressed, please tell someone. There’s help and there’s hope. Whatever you’re battling today, my friend, would you look up? And reach out to us at Laugh Again? We care, we’re here and we’ll pray, believing that a day is just around the corner when you’ll be filled with purpose, hope and joy. Truly free. Able to Laugh Again.