Lessons From Robin Williams

It is a bit of a sad week this week. When my wife broke the news to me, my first reaction was to question whether it was real or just some online rumor. Alas, it was the truth – Robin Williams is gone. He has been in a lot of movies in his career, but as I watch the tributes given in his honor, I am amazed at the roles he played. As entertaining as Robin Williams usually was, there were also some incredibly deep and profound roles. So, today we pay a bit of a tribute to Robin Williams in our post.

Perhaps my favorite Robin Williams movie is Dead Poets Society.robin williams John Keating’s ability to connect with the young men in his class was outstanding. In one of the most known scenes, Keating lines the boys up in front of a trophy case and whispers to them, “Carpe. Hear it? Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

Contrasted to Williams’ recent end, it may seem a bit of a dichotomy. But to start, let’s focus on the ‘carpe diem’ perspective. I heard another actor state that Robin Williams could take any line another actor put out and immediately respond with something that was always funny. Certainly there were a wide variety of roles in his career, and even his choice of role variety can be seen as seizing the day. He made the most of what was given to him.

What does this mean for us? What opportunities are before you? Even in the repressive atmosphere of the school in Dead Poets Society, John Keating was able to move his students forward towards becoming extraordinary young men. What do you find oppressive in your life?

For a good number of people in our society, money issues are an incredibly oppressive circumstance. Money issues are very often connected with marital issues, issues with other relationships, depression, and even suicide. Financial situations can be so overwhelming that they can easily squelch the joys that exist in our lives.

And yet, hope remains. As I discussed in last week’s blog post, there is hope. Most debt can be eliminated within 5 years. Additionally, those struggling with finances are not alone. I can assure you, our counselors have seen just about everything. More importantly, they have helped people deal with just about everything. All that is needed is for those facing debt to seize the day. Reach out. Get some help. You have the ability to make your life extraordinary.

In another of my favorite scenes from Dead Poets Society, John Keating had his students stand not next to their desks, but on top of their desks. DPS DeskHis point was that we all need to see life from a different perspective at times. In Good Will Hunting, playing another amazing role as Dr. Sean McGuire, Williams states, “You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” While facing your financial issues, be sure to take time for the other pieces of your life. Friends, family, pets, hobbies, skills, services to others – they can all be good stuff for you regardless of your financial bad times. Take a breath. Get a new perspective. Don’t let financial issues completely consume you.

Looking at the other half of the dichotomy, I want to take a moment to address the not-so-funny part of Robin Williams. Depression was obviously something he dealt with for a length of time and eventually succumbed to. As mentioned above, this is often only one of several pieces of the puzzle. If you are dealing with financial issues, please take a look at your life and identify other areas of help you may need.

I think one of the great aspects of being a part of Lutheran Social Services is that we, through our different areas of focus, have the ability as a single organization to provide more holistic care for you. Just around the hallway corner from the Center for Financial Resources are the Personal and Family-based Counseling offices. They are licensed professionals able to help you with those emotional and mental health issues. We also have pregnancy counseling, resources for immigrants and refugees, income-based childcare, and many other resources to help where we can.

Finally, speaking as one who has personally dealt with depression, if you at all feel depressed you need to get help – regardless of the cause. Find the source of your health issues and deal with it. If you know someone who is struggling with mental help, stand up and be an advocate for them. Unfortunately, there is a stigma associated with both financial troubles and mental health alike. Just as John Keating did with the introduction to his poetry text book in Dead Poets Society, we need to remove the stigma from our thoughts and throw it to the wind, removing it from our culture and finding a new perspective.

The first step to all of this is yours to make. Seize the day! The Center for Financial Resources provides financial counseling and is happy to provide that resource as a part of the larger care for a person. We can also certainly get you connected with other services as needed. Please call us. Seize the day!  We are here to help you make your life as extraordinary as possible.


written by Breck Miller

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