I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t fall asleep again. I read about Robin Williams and I’m saddened and shocked in ways that surprise me. If you had asked me eight hours ago to list my favourite actors, or my favourite films, the top ten list wouldn’t have included neither Robin Williams, nor one of his many wonderful (and some terrible) movies (because who doesn’t have at least one terrible movie they are ridiculously fond of? Mine is Strange Days). But I’m looking back now and I can’t help but thinking that I grew up with Robin Williams. He was a nanny for all of us. From Mork to Professor Keating, from Mrs Doubtfire to Genie, he was a constant companion of my childhood and youth - a playful friend, a teacher. For my more grown-up self he was Garp. So many hours spent in his company. And now, at 5:03am as my birthday kicks in, I realise that it’s the things we don’t know we know that make us. What’s under the surface, what’s at the core of us has been moulded and sculpted by experiences and emotions that we are not in control of. That’s beautiful - and scary, if you find that below the surface lies something darker than you expected. (I had this very powerful experience on Saturday at the latest Marina Abramovic performance: a sense that once you are alone with yourself, something is exposed that can be extremely revelatory. I was surprised to find a sense of peace and resolution in myself at that time - I started off from turmoil, worry, mental and physical hyperactivity, accompanied by some of the demons that have been pestering me in the last five or so years - self-doubt and fear of the future. A pleasant inner glow has been accompanying me since. And my Chinese friend C. informed me that Jupiter moved into Leo a month ago, so it’s currently, apparently, a great cosmic time for those of us born under its star.) So here’s what we learn from the passing of a great man. That “the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.” I have this Frank O’Hara poem stuck in my head, and I’m thinking let’s move on, keep passing the open windows and beware the undertoad, and love each other and take good care of ourselves, and try to enjoy this crazy world such as it is with its ups and downs, despite war, depression and the unbearable melancholy of Sunday nights, and a happy fucking bangarang birthday to me
Oh! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas!
You really are beautiful! Pearls,
harmonicas, jujubes, aspirins! all
the stuff they’ve always talked about
still makes a poem a surprise!
These things are with us every day
even on beachheads and biers. They
do have meaning. They’re strong as rocks.