(Stick with me on this one – it’s going to take a little bit to see that the title makes sense…)
As someone who grew up watching a lot of television in the 70s and 80s, my world was rocked when “Mork & Mindy” first appeared on ABC. Putting it the easiest way that I can, the show was just so different. And by different I don’t even mean that it was some show about some extraterrestrial who came to earth in an egg shaped vessel – it was just so different because Robin Williams was just bouncing off the walls nuts. If you watched the show then you know what I mean – you just couldn’t take your eyes off of him. He was all over the place and you never knew what was coming next – and I loved it. I can’t say as I really remember any specific episodes or the plot to any of them, but I really do just see in my head this Tasmanian Devil of a character all over the place. And it was just awesome.
Pam Dawber and Robin Williams
And then, in typical form, I looked for him in everything. I actually enjoyed seeing him in “Popeye,” even though that one certainly hasn’t stood the test of time (give me a break, I was 8 or 9 at the time!) And then he was in some other things that didn’t really stand out until he portrayed Adrian Cronauer in “Good Morning, Vietnam,” and again, here he was playing this manic character. (By the way, I didn’t have to look up Cronauer’s name – Williams embedded that in my head – in a good way). It was in this role that I first saw that the guy could really act, though. While he was certainly funny, there were certain scenes where he just stole it by being serious. And these were the scenes that really stood out to me.
It was at this point, I’d say that his meteoric rise truly started (at least in my eyes – perhaps that’s not historically accurate – I’m not really sure). “Dead Poet’s Society” furthered my thoughts on his ability to play a serious role, even though he was still looked at as a comedic actor. And then, and I’m making a big jump here, time-wise, he was in “Good Will Hunting.” And it seemed as though everything changed for me. No longer did I even look at him for his comedic talents – I simply looked at him as this incredible actor. I think it was this scene that truly, truly did this for me:
And then, again, after jumping much further in time, he took his own life and I don’t know why it is, but it’s just really affected me. It’s not like I knew him by any means, I just wanted to, I guess. How could this man, who brought so much joy to so many, whether that be with his comedic or serious roles, be so distraught to do this? To this day, I get choked up when I see anything that he’s in. I can’t even think about seeing “Boulevard,” because I still don’t think I can get through it.
So here’s where I bring that title into play. I was walking into our faculty lounge yesterday for lunch and noticed a piece that had been hung on the wall near the door. It caught my attention, certainly, but I was so close to it that I didn’t really even take it all in. I came out of the lounge, so the piece was to my back now, and I didn’t even notice it as I went to get something to eat. And then I came back through, looking straight at the piece from a further distance and with some perspective. It was then that it truly, truly hit me.
Now we have some unbelievably talented artists who have come through our school. Our art teachers do a fantastic job with them and have come up with some awesome assignments, while also fostering a sense of ownership of our school’s walls at the same time. That might not sound right, but it’s so cool to walk down the halls and see such great work that is student produced. I’m truly in awe of the talent – and that’s only magnified by the fact that I have none of it!
If you look close enough, you’ll notice that there’s no signature on it and no label, so I had no idea who created this piece. I tweeted out a pic and in no time found out who created this wonderful portrait. In just a few more minutes I found out that this was her first attempt at this type of work. Are you kidding me??? I’d kill (okay, not really) for this type of talent.
And then it hit me. And it hit me like a ton of stones landing solely on my chest, Giles Corey style. This subject was chosen purposely. You see, the young lady who created this has experienced the type of tragedy that nobody should have to face. And she’s done so with class and dignity.
This is a statement piece. There’s a clear purpose behind it and I truly hope that it helps to bring her peace. That’s probably not going to be tomorrow or next week or even this year. But someday she’ll look back and come to the realization that creating this — and putting herself out there while doing so — took an incredible amount of courage.
I’m truly, extremely proud of you, young lady.