- Posted August 12, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
A Piece of Childhood....Gone
If you'd asked me this morning which celebrity had the biggest impact on my childhood, I wouldn't have said 'Robin Williams.' A child of the late 80's-90's, there's a whole mess of names I could have mentioned. But at the news of Robin Williams' passing, I had to pause. With unexpected, perplexing pain, I was struck with grief. I suppose it's how the Baby Boomers reacted when John Lennon was shot, or how Generation X felt when Michael Jackson died--these are people who indelibly shaped a generation under our noses, and it's not until they're suddenly gone from the world that you notice what an impact they had on your life.
I remember going to see Hook in the movie theater when I was just 7 years old with my best friend--I remember it vividly. How wonderful would it be to discover you could fly? What if you imagined a grand, colorful, perfect feast hard enough that it suddenly appeared? Or that within 3 days you could learn to fight a villain like Captain Hook? Bangarang....
I remember seeing Aladdin in the theater as a little girl--the roar of laughter the entire duration of the film whenever that silly, hilarious, lovable Genie came on the screen. Beeee yourself! My best friend and I would listen to the genie's song on her new CD player over and over and over again, dancing all over the house, scaring the cat and dog to death.
I saw Jumanji when I was 11, and all I wanted was to play a game where animals came out of the walls and stampeded through town, all while Alan Parrish and Sarah Wittle guided me and my pretend brother through all the exciting obstacles of jungle living. I must've watched Jumanji on VHS tape about 100 times.
As I got older, Robin Williams' more serious roles meant more to me. An injured soul whose own pain and compassion make him the only person qualified enough to break the rigid emotional exterior of a troubled boy genius in Good Will Hunting. An awkward, anti-social researcher who learns about embracing life from patients who've just awoken from a 40-year coma in Awakenings. A man who becomes a doctor solely based on his belief that laughter truly is the best medicine in Patch Adams.
These roles, these characters
this manhave left an undeniable fingerprint on everyone, but most of all those of us who watched his movies as children. We were the ones with suspended disbelief--who believed you could think happy thoughts and fly, or believed a man COULD dress and act like an old nanny for the sake of being with his kids, or were convinced that we could wrestle crocodiles or fight pirates or rub a magic lamp and wait to make our 3 wishes.
Was it all a sham? Was it really just an actor working for a paycheck, an impostor who made us believe all these things were possible but didn't believe them himself?
I don't think so. I'll continue to believe that Robin Williams embodied all those characters whole-heartedly, believing the ideals he acted out--dreaming, love, life, and most of all, laughter.
So thank you, Peter Pan--we'll keep thinking happy thoughts, believing that no matter how old we are, we can fly.
Because that's what you taught us.