I am extremely prone to highly internalized melodrama. Stuff happens, and I like to feel all the feels, even though I typically prefer not to demonstrate it. You might say that I cultivate a persona of intentionally low affect (this is largely a professional decision, as I work with children who are extremely skilled at getting under a person’s skin).
I only bring this point up because I think anyone reading this post should be aware of my penchant for melodrama, since this is one of those times where it feels particularly strong, and in my best analysis I’d guess that it’s not entirely rational.
Like pretty much the rest of the internet, I heard about Robin Williams’s passing Monday evening, and like many people in my demographic (if Facebook is any indicator), I’m saddened by the news. I’ve not had an intense interest in Williams’s career since I was a kid who thought that celebrity impressions were the height of refined comedy, but the details I’ve gleaned about his death have apparently struck me in a certain way.
It might be the fact that Williams was suffering from depression; mental illness is an insidious thing that too many people misunderstand as a problem of a person’s attitude. The fact that it’s often rooted in a physiological defect in the brain doesn’t really occur to us, because we don’t see the disease. Yeah, we see the behaviors the stem from it, but behavior’s a difficult thing to pin down; the metaphysics of free will alone create a complicated system where depending on your particular opinion about whether the mind represents something that transcends the sum total of the brain’s parts or is simply the expression of that extremely complicated machine will influence whether you consider behavior to be something that a person has the power to control. It’s enough to give you a headache.
The mental illness connection stems further, because it leaves me thinking about my students; I’ve mentioned before that I work with kids who have special needs largely related to behavioral issues. Many of them have extremely difficult lives because of their illnesses, and often it feels like my involvement in their education only marginally improves their situation, if at all. In the most extreme instances, things end very poorly (that particular bit of awfulness happened last August).
Now I know that this is me drawing connections where there are only coincidences. The probability of deaths of people you know, be it personally or by reputation, occurring in the same general time of year isn’t particularly low. This stuff happens. There’s no greater significance to it than lots of people die every day and sometimes the deaths of people you know happen near one another on the calendar. And despite understanding that, something about the coincidence resonates with you and makes you feel things just a bit deeper than you normally would at that time of year.
There’s nothing else to it besides that, I think. Doesn’t change the way I feel about it though.