Isn't it always funny how sometimes, out of nowhere, things hit you on an emotional level that you were not only completely unprepared for, but you have absolutely no idea why you even care? And then, when you sit down for a minute to think about it, you realize that you do care a little, because well, parts of your life sort of molded around that one movie, or that one line, and then crap! You're crying a little and watching clips on youtube and writing a blog post.
On our way out the door tonight to go to Ross' company's summer party at the zoo he mentioned to me in passing, reading twitter while walking out the door, that Robin Williams died, of an apparent suicide. I didn't think much of it at the moment because we were hurrying to get going, but as the night progressed, and I did a little social media surfing myself, and a little internet searching when we got home, I got to thinking. Robin Williams and many of the characters he portrayed, played a huge role in my childhood. Just as big of a role as Jake Ryan ever did.
I adore the movie Hook. Robin Williams is the best old man Peter Pan that there ever could be. Last winter I bought the movie off the five dollar bin at target and made by boys watch it. They are used to cartoons, and don't have a lot of experience with "real people" movies, but once we got to Never Land and the lost boys there was no going back. The magic of this movie, the pixie dust of its enchantment caught hold of them and they were, well, "hooked". The message that if you are lost, you can always be found , that you can always go home, and that you never need to give up your childhood or your joy is priceless. When the Lost Boys help Peter Banning finds his lost Pan, even as the old lady that I am, I get goose bumps. And honestly, I say bangarang! a couple of times a week.
I had a Good Will Hunting Phase when I was in college. I watched that movie, with all it's "F" bombs at least once a week. At first, it was definitely because of Matt Damon, but man alive, that scene where Robin Williams is ad libbing about his wife dying of cancer and that she would fart in her sleep? As irreverent as that was, it was one of the funniest and more honest movie scenes I've ever watched. I felt like I was at a family party, not watching a movie, and isn't that what good acting is all about?
I've seen The World According to Garp, and Awakenings and The Fisher King all as late night or Saturday movies. I've seen The Birdcage a couple of times, Good Morning Vietnam, Popeye, and the one where he is the Russian. I've watched the final scene of one of his more recent dark comedies about a son who dies in a tragic accident/suicide (The Good Son I think?) at home and it's a pretty moving thing to watch. As I started to think about it, I've seen so much. There is so much out there. From Mork and Mindy, to watching him on Johnny Carson with my mom, to the movies, I grew up with
But, what still gets me every time, no matter how cliche it might be, is Dead Poet's Society. THAT is my teacher movie. That movie was what inspired me to be a teacher. I still remember seeing it in the theater. I remember, ironically, not being to certain about what suicide was and talking to my mom about it. I also remember watching it when I was a little older, and guiding me to be the kind of teacher that would leave kids wanting to learn more, to be more. To live deliberately and take all they could from their lives.
Besides the fact that I read Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau to my students, I wanted to teach my kids to be brave, to take a step outside of themselves if they needed to, and to not only be inspired but to inspire others. Dead Poet's Society was my Hoosiers, and Professor Keeting was my inspirational teacher. As a teacher, I tried to sound my barbaric YAWP on top of the world for all my students to hear.
I guess when it comes right down to it, it's just really sad to me, heartbreaking really, that some people have so much Barbaric YAWP left to give the world, famous or not, and they extinguish their own flame far too early. Hopefully, when we all come to die, we discovered that we did live, and that, if we can swing it, we always want to live a little bit more.
Maybe one day, I'd just really like to be able to give some one a set of those inspiring goosebumps.