I suppose I should start somewhat at the beginning.
When I was in grade 10, I had the pleasure of being in English honours. I had worked my butt off to get into this class, as it was the only honours class my school offered that wasn't for sciences or maths, and when I got in, I was ecstatic. All I ever heard was how amazing the class was and how great the teacher was, so on the first day of school, I stepped into the classroom and was greeted with Star Wars and Beatles posters, quotes plastered all over the walls, bookshelves galore, and my favourite thing: a bust of William Shakespeare. My teacher, who I'll just call Mr. J, was energetic and exuberant and a bit erratic and a few days after getting settled into regular classroom stuff, he put on a movie that would end up being an immensely important part of my history in school. The movie was Dead Poet's Society, starring Robin Williams as the inspiring Mr. Keating, an English teacher at a strict boarding school for boys.
No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world. x
I won't get into too much detail about the film, as if you have not seen it, I strongly recommend that you do go watch it. However, after completing the movie in class, I was completely moved and astounded by how much the story and the characters had affected me and how much it opened my mind. That right there was the general theme of the entire class: opening your mind, being an individual, living life to the fullest. During this semester, I was going through some intense difficulties in my personal life due to some stuff that I haven't really ever shared on here and am not sure if I'm brave enough to, but that's beside the point. After watching it once in class, I found myself rewatching DPS over and over again and soaking in all of the words that Mr. Keating spoke. Robin Williams' voice still rings through my head with these words when I'm feeling like I can't accomplish my dreams, like my words don't matter and that I'll never be able to be a writer. And that is why I felt so devastatingly sad when I heard about his death and why I'm still feeling down as I'm writing this.
But then, I read an article talking about how a celebrity's death should not be the biggest thing in the 'world's' collective sadness when there is so much tragedy going on in the rest of the world right now. And I felt immediately guilty for my previous feelings of sadness. I was thinking, why should I be upset about this man who's passed away, I never even knew him, his death should not affect me the way it has. I should be thinking more about what's going on across the world, about the women and children who are suffering and the wars that are going on... The article made some excellent points about the way our society revolves around the lives and deaths of celebrities. But my guilt does not erase my sadness.
Yes, it is important to have knowledge of what is happening in the world, especially the tragedies and the struggles of our fellow people. I will never, ever dispute that, because it is knowledge that is power and with that knowledge we can speak out and hope to reach others. We should be saddened by the deaths of the children that happen every day due to cruelty and war and we must acknowledge the sufferings of the men and women who live every day in fear that their lives will be taken in the name of a war that they have no part in. However, we can also take a moment, or even a few, to be saddened by the loss of a celebrity that helped you in some way, or made you laugh, or starred in a favourite movie, or whatever it may be. Part of being human is connecting with people, characters, and stories and when an actor dies, it's like those connections are being torn and you must remind yourself that the story is still there, the character is still there and the effect that that it has on you doesn't have to change just because the person who brought it to life has passed away. You should cherish the feelings that the story brings to you, the laughter, the tears. It's those things that remind us that we're human, that we love, that we feel, that we connect. And we should never feel guilty about any of that. I will always love DPS and always remember it as the movie that kept me going and I will always remember that Robin Williams, comedic genius, was one of the people that kept me writing. I am constantly saddened by the events that happen in these countries that are not as fortunate as the one I live in and I desperately want to figure out if I can do something to help. But we must remember that if you are saddened by the death of a public figure, it does not mean you're a bad person or that you don't care about the world.... It just means you've been affected by this person. That's it and that is perfectly okay.
Okay, that's that. I don't know if I even wrote anything coherent at all... I probably ended up saying a bunch of stuff that I didn't really mean to, but you know what? I'm exhausted and need to get this published before I delete it all out of fear.
Happy reading everybody! And rest in peace, Robin Williams. Thank you for the countless laughs, thank you for the tears, and thank you for the infinite amount of inspiration and encouragement. Oh Captain, my captain, you will be missed.