Dead Poets Remember and Inspire

The movie Dead Poet’s Society came out during the summer between my junior and senior years at University of Michigan.  Formative years for me and for the young men in the movie. Impressionable – oh so impressionable.  1989.


And for that reason alone, has always been a favorite of mine…if not all time favorite.  And, I found myself watching it again recently, of course…


I remember connecting with Robert Sean Leonard’s character for many reasons.  For my struggles with homosexuality within The Word of God Community and UCO; for my perceptions of my father, so desperately wanting his approval and acceptance (when ironically it was always there, just not as vocal then as I wanted…); for my past years as a thespian, wondering what am I doing here as an engineer?  Oh so many connections. And for the struggles with rejection, depression and thoughts of suicide. These were the best of times, and the worst of times… 1989.


Then, full circle, Robin William’s untimely death due to his own depression comes at a juncture in my life where I’ve lost some focus and direction.  I’ve decided to close the Candlestick House chapter for now at least, and that has created a vacuum.  It’s been a tough month…


I’ve also had to face the grim realities of my feeble attempts to find and live in community, a concept so foreign and allusive to me.  (Thank for rubbing my face in that F.  Got the message…your ego landed that one, sans compassion or empathy.  But, I needed to hear it, so…I accept the gift in its brown wrapping!)


I run because it’s what I do best, and yet I’m running from the very fabric I so desperately want to feel covering and connecting me.


I want to turn the concept of “community” into a workshop or project, when in reality I simply need to focus on living it.  Each day. Simply.  Like a garden.


Very hard for me to fathom after 45 years of life patterns, social skills and addiction.


And I also find myself facing an almost insurmountable collection of affairs and boxes from my own down sizing in 2011, as well as the belongings from my mother’s estate which were set aside and stored for the transitional living house that never materialized.  And amidst those boxes, a firestorm of chaos left by a “monkey” I let into my circus, who robbed me and let my home become the pigpen of a somewhat demented soul while I was on vacation.


“Not my monkeys, not my circus” anymore…


And I’m not a victim in any of this.  These are all the result of choices I’ve made, situations I’ve put myself into… Being able to own a voice is so foreign to me, having let others be my voice or chart my path.  That’s one thing that Robin William’s character was clear on – carpė diem, but with it comes the responsibility of facing consequences and owning our decisions, even if it means facing others’ opposition or challenges, as I have, learning to find my stride…


So yes, August 2014 has been a tough month on many levels, only to live through Robin’s suicide as well.  (No disrespect to his family…)


His death took me back to a time when I was much younger, yet still struggling to find my own voice – and also reinforced this current dark chapter, where I struggle to find again a foundation, a stride, a verse to contribute.  Community – ‘a sense of belonging.’ What is that? So many changes.  So many ebbs and flows.  Some friendships morph.  Some relations come and go.  Some leave me wondering if I’ll ever be able to replace this loneliness with the comfort and daily presence of another “S.O.” in my life.


Life I guess.  And I still don’t always know how to live it on life’s terms…


Lines from a song I came across stand out for me:
“Sometimes I think I’m better off to turn out the lights and close up shop. And give up the longing, believing in belonging, just hold down my head and take the loss.” (from Learn My Lessons, Daughtry)


And don’t worry.  I’m not going to follow in Robin’s footsteps (just for today…).  It’s just where I’ve been and where I am. I needed to walk this path as I find my stride.


Learning another set of lessons from life itself.  Finding my voice.


What is going to be my verse?  (Thanks Apple! 🙂

On a more positive note, I came across this tribute to Robin.  Powerful.



And I found a quote from his son:
“I lost my father and a best friend and the world got a little grayer,” said Zak Williams. “I will carry his heart with me every day. I would ask those that loved him to remember him by being as gentle, kind and generous as he would be. Seek to bring joy to the world as he sought.”


And I discovered an amazing and emotive article that speaks to the reality of the situation…as another author puts it, “he didn’t die from apparent suicide. He died from depression.” The one author gives a voice to depression – the ‘D’ I have known, the ‘D’ Robin knew, and the ‘D’ I will inevitably face again.


Which comes first the chicken or the egg?  The using or the depression. (my story…now some from hers…)


But as [the doctor] went down a list of symptoms, they were all there — loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, waves of irrational anxiety, crying for no reason, loss of interest in work and hobbies, isolation and seclusion. I had nearly every one of them.


Still, I refused to let myself completely off the hook, and as I left her office, I set forth on a path of self-discovery to identify how my actions might’ve contributed to how I felt — a path that quickly brought up the ever-confusing chicken and egg game.


Did I isolate myself from my friends because I was depressed? Or did I become depressed because I isolated myself from my friends?


I was more hesitant than usual to keep what was going on to myself, telling only my family and those closest to me at the time what the doctor had said. Soon it became clear that I needed the support of more than a select few if I was going to get through this. Plus, it’s not like me not to share what’s going on in my life. And isolating myself, I suspected, was partly to blame for being in this situation in the first place. So, at the inappropriate places and the most inopportune times I could find, I began dropping the “D-bomb.”


And then as always, this glimmer of hope – this phrase that makes it all worth living through because of the truth that emerges:


“Everything is OK.
Maybe not today, but eventually.”


She framed it and hung it near her bed, where she sees it every day.  As will I.


Thank you for walking this journey with me. It’s for me of course. If you found something helpful here, thank our universe.  Pretty cool…


Some wisdom from the movie script…
“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”


“Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!”


“Now we all have a great need for acceptance, but you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, even though the herd may go, [imitating a goat] “that’s baaaaad.”


“Thank you, boys. Thank you.”


And on an unrelated but upbeat note, I’ll close with Mr. Rogers:
And because it’s such an amazing, creative piece of work: