"You're only given a little spark of madness, you mustn't lose it." - Robin Williams.
When I heard of Robin Williams’ tragic passing last week, I spent Monday night watching Mrs Doubtfire struggling to make sense of the loss of such a talented human being and failing miserably.
The characters Williams brought to life helped shape my childhood and sparked my imagination and I’m so thankful that I go to see him in his element at a stand up show that was can’t-talk-from laughing too hard, tears rolling down your cheeks funny.
I think President Barack Obama spoke on behalf of all of his fans when he said, "Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind."
The Robin Williams I will most remember, is an English teacher who taught his students that words and ideas can change the world. In my favourite film, Dead Poets Society, Williams plays unorthodox professor John Keating, who rejects the conservative values at Welton Academy and implores his students to adopt his mantra, “Carpe Diem, seize the day.”
In one of the film’s most pivotal scenes, Williams tells his students that “we don't read and write poetry because it’s cute, we read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman: 'O me, o life of the questions of these recurring, of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, o me, o life?' Answer: that you are here. That life exists, and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”
When I first watched this film as a kid, I always had my nose stuck in a book, I was actually known to read whilst walking just like Belle from the Beauty and the Beast. This scene really struck a chord with me and it made me realise that I wanted to be a writer; that would be my verse. And I later went on to do just that.
Whatever you remember Robin Williams for, it's undeniable that he contributed a pretty extraordinary verse.
Think of what you want to contribute, what you are most passionate about and ask yourself the question, “What will my verse be?”