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art theplaceThis sucks. 

One of the finest actors, comedians and pop culture icons of our lifetime, Robin Williams, gone, just like that — a bright flame, snuffed out.

For me, being 29 years old, how many of his films were huge movies for my generation? Countless. I mean, all of those amazing, timeless roles, the genie in “Aladdin” and his starring roles in “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Jumanji,” “Good Morning, Vietnam,” “Dead Poets Society,” “The Fisher King,” “Hook,” “The Birdcage,” “Good Will Hunting,” “Patch Adams,” and the list goes on and on. 

According to reports, Williams took his own life. After years of depression, drug abuse and alcoholism, he succumbed to his pain. And one thing I’ve learned in my time on this earth, is that sometimes the loudest, funniest, most extroverted people can also be the saddest and most in need of love and support. Never forget that everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle, whether emotionally or physically.

All of us out there in society have been directly affected by suicide, either within our own circles or by our admiration of folks we hold high in esteem, who then seem to fly too close to the sun in doing so, ultimately falling from grace.

In my own existence, I’ve always told my friends and family members I’m there for them, no matter what, that if things get rough, don’t ever hesitate to call me and we’ll spend some time together. And there have been several times, too many, where folks will seek me out to just be there, in the room with them, so they don’t feel so alone.

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Over the years, I’ve had immediate family members and dear friends attempt suicide. My heart shatters with each phone call I receive following their failed attempt or funeral I attend when they succeed. For those I cannot bring back, their beautiful souls live on within me. For those I can reach out to, I don’t get angry with them, I offer true compassion and a non-judgmental ear. 

Depression is real, and it affects us all. While plenty of us can push through it and see a silver lining from our individual perspectives, some never seek shelter from the storm. As they say, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

I actually ran into Williams once, backstage at Radio City Music Hall during a David Gilmour (of Pink Floyd) solo show in 2006. This was right around the time Williams was going through a rough patch with addiction and rehabilitation. I remember him walking by me, then later standing in the circle of people I was among. It was crazy, me, my best college friend Ted, Radio City production crew, David Crosby, Graham Nash and Williams, who, as usual, was the center of attention. He was making all of these jokes (lovingly) about Crosby’s liver transplant, etc. We were all in stitches. 

I remember being in such awe of Williams’ presence, of what incredible energy and vivaciousness he possessed. He will be dearly missed. The light of humanity is a tad dimmer with his loss. I’ve never before seen the amount of love and beloved remembrance on social media or in conversation like I have with the passing of Robin Williams. It’s simply amazing all of the lives he touched with his work. Laughter makes the world go round, and Williams’ legacy will spin this globe for eternity.

For any of you out there, who maybe just need a friend, I offer my time to you. Sure, you may think, “What? But I don’t even know this writer guy.” And I say to you, “All friends were strangers at one time.” So, I’m here, for you. And if you want someone else to talk to, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800.273.8255 or 

For those of you reading this who have a firm grasp on your life and aspirations, make sure you tell the ones you love, well, that you love them. Remind family and friends of how important they are to you, and that life wouldn’t be the same without them. One simple phone call or chat over a cup of coffee can make someone’s bad day good again.

Always remember, even in your darkest days, there is always someone out there who loves and cares for you, and wants you to be happy. We all get sad and depressed, and lonely, at times, but remember to think of how lucky you are in your own endeavors, to be able to wake up every morning and try again, and reach for the stars.

Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all.



Hot picks

1: Bluegrass/Americana band Mangus Colorado will perform as part of Concerts on the Creek at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 22 at Bridge Park in Sylva.

2: The red carpet gala and premier of the film “Bigfoot Wars” will be at 6 p.m. Aug. 23 at the RE/MAX Mountain Reality and The Strand at 38 Main in downtown Waynesville.

3: PAWS will be hosting a wine tasting and silent auction at 7 p.m. Aug. 30 at Lands Creek Cabins in Bryson City.

4: Funk/rock act Porch 40 will perform at 9 p.m. Aug. 30 at No Name Sports Pub in Sylva.

5: Appalachian singer/songwriter Michael Reno Harrell will perform at part of Pickin’ on the Square at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 23 in downtown Franklin.

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