The Price

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August 15, 2014 by T. Gregory Argall

We should have known.

I think for me it was “Moscow On The Hudson.” That was the film that showed me that Robin Williams, the crazy, wacky, funny guy from “Mork & Mindy” could do serious, moving, dramatic moments. In a larger sense it showed me that the contrast between comedy and drama could be balanced effectively to add more impact to both.
It wasn’t till a few years later that I actually heard it articulated as, “The heights of our joy can only be measured against the depths of our sorrow,” but from that film I had a basic grasp of the concept.
As a writer I’m always striving to find that balance. I enjoy writing comedy, and laughter is a wonderful reward, but I know it needs the counterpoint of drama to give it real meaning. To put it in more crass terms, everything has a price.

We should have known.

All week we’ve been seeing stories in the media, postings on Facebook, tales on Twitter, from people who had the opportunity to work with Robin Williams, or even just meet him once or twice. Consistently, everyone who spoke of spending time with him, spoke about how this brilliant comically creative mind was constantly on.
He was always running to the next joke, feeding his humour with everything around him, always finding more laughter.
We praised the way he strove to push his comedy to new heights. Nobody thought of the depths from which he was pushing.
Everything has a price.

We should have known.

Of course, realistically, there’s no way we could have known. Everything is clearer and more obvious in hindsight, but moving forward in time things just aren’t as easy to see. Besides, it wouldn’t be reasonable for strangers to just walk up to someone and say, “Mr. Williams, I can see what you’re going through and I want you to know it’s ok, you’re not alone.”
But wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could do that and truly mean it?

I’ve been depressed. I’ve dealt with frustrated sadness and that overwhelming everything-is-against-me feeling. As much as we might wish it otherwise, telling someone, “Cheer the hell up, ya mopey bastard,” simply doesn’t work. i even said it to myself and it still didn’t work. I knew why I was depressed, what had happened to trigger these feelings, and somewhere inside I recognized that eventually acceptance would settle in and I would get back to “normal.” But while it was happening, I felt trapped and alone and helpless.
And that was just regular, run-of-mill standard depression.
I can’t imagine the terror and uncertainty of clinical depression, of having those feelings intensified by their randomness, with no clear cause, triggered by a whim of chemistry in my brain.

One of the many Robin Williams’ quotes of wisdom that have been swirling around the internet these last few days is, “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.”
That quote, with its particular significance in light of Williams’ battles with depression and mental illness, is from the film “World’s Greatest Dad,” and while Robin Williams delivered the line beautifully, the credited writer is Bobcat Goldthwait.
That’s right, Bobcat freakin’ Goldthwait, the “rraaaahhhhhgghhll” guy from the “Police Academy” movies. Maybe he saw what we didn’t. Maybe giving that line to Williams was his way of reaching out, of trying to let his friend know that he wasn’t alone.
I don’t know.

Removed from the context of the film, here’s the scene, for what it’s worth.

Try to be nice to each other.
And try to be nice yourself, too. You’re not alone.

tga

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