The one thing that anybody who has ever put on the uniform knows is that the world is a dark place. There is evil in this world. The depravations that man inflicts on his fellow man is beyond what any of us have experienced at home, in America. So you might wonder why, with everything that is happening in this world, does the death of one comedian matter?
Maybe it doesn’t matter.
If you’re my age, Robin Williams was one of the first comedians with whom you felt that you shared a bond. From being a beebopin English nanny to telling us to come check out Prince Ali to teaching us the meaning of bangarang, Robin Williams was a part of our psyche and cultural parlance. As we got older, our relationship with him and his characters changed.
As all things change as we get older.
Yet it is with age, that some of the lessons and some of the iconic language that he introduced us to have begun to become meaningful. Perhaps it is the suddenness of his death that ties together all of the lessons his characters tried to impart on us.
We’ve all been in a funk before. I know that I have.
The funny thing about digging yourself out of a hole is that the act of digging usually makes the hole deeper.
So it’s hard to tell you how to get out of a funk once you’re in it. But for me, I got out of my funk two weeks ago. You see, my family and I buried my Aunt. As I listened to the blessings and looked down at the gravestones of my Grandfather and Grandmother, I couldn’t help but remember what Robin Williams had said to all of us in Dead Poets Society: “Believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold, and die”. To some, the idea that death is always around the corner is distressing. This idea hinders their every movement. To me, this idea propels me. It reminds me of the lesson that many of us learned in combat.
Life is precious and should not be wasted.
But what is it about life? What is a wasted life? I cannot answer that for you and you cannot answer that for me. Like success, defining a wasted life depends on the individual. However, while we might have all decided to put on the uniform for different reasons, the one unifying thought that ties our reasons together is the idea that we could make our world better.
Whether that was through killing terrorists, keeping a family lineage intact, or earning the GI Bill in order to attend college.
Depending on the body, after cremation we weigh anywhere between three to nine pounds. We fit into an urn that is slightly bigger than a gallon. We die and regardless of your religious beliefs, our physical impact on this world ceases. All that is left is the verse that we contribute to this world. One verse, that’s the most any human life can hope to leave behind. Many of us weren’t afraid to start writing that verse when we signed up to change our lives and our world. But as time ticks away, we become more and more hesitant to continue writing our verse. Our mistakes and the mistakes of others scare us.
We believe that we are writing with a pen instead of a pencil.
While I neither know how my verse nor your verse will turn out, what I can promise you is that it is better to write a verse than to let fear prevent you from writing it.
All of us veterans at one time didn’t settle for a normal life, don’t settle for one now.
I never met Robin Williams. And probably the death of one comedian is outweighed by all of the terrible events and deaths in this world. However, when the total of Robin Williams’ life is summed up, I’m certain that he had an oversized positive impact on this world. Whether he impacted us on screen, made us laugh during his stand-up, or had us respect him for his numerous trips to Iraq and Afghanistan to entertain our brothers and sisters, Robin Williams made the world a better place. I hope that you and I can continue to have a positive impact on this world.
To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime
You may for ever tarry.