But every once in a while, I do make a connection with a movie that for whatever reason, strums the chords of my heart, tickles the regions of my brain, makes me sit up and pay attention to the art on the screen. And when that happens for me, it is something that lingers for a long long time.
And rarely does it happen in proximity of the same actor.
Dead Poet's Society came out a few years before I started high school, and it was several years after the release before I saw it. It didn't take long for me to recognize that this was a movie that would give me the experience that was rare. And, being a teenager when I saw it first, I related to those kids. They were rich and male and had an upbringing that I didn't understand, but they made a connection to literature, something that if they had attended my high school, would have made them quite unpopular. But they felt a connection, an elevation in their lives (both literally and figuratively) and they knew that the experiences they had with people who had been dead for hundreds of years was undeniable, permanent and strong.
When I watched it again, several years later, I felt something stir in me again, something brought about by my own life experiences, maturity, and quest for meaning. I watched as the boys again went through their learning processes, and again fell in love with literature. But this time my connection was with their mentor. The way Mr. Keating broke the status quo, allowed himself to be strange and quirky and himself left me in awe. Once again, I was seeing the world from a different view, an elevated view, enjoying a glimpse of a world I hadn't known before, but desperately wanted to embrace.
If we fast forward a few years, I found myself encircled in the chaos and sorrow of a miscarriage, unable to reconcile what I was feeling with the person I had been before. Tears appeared without warning and lingered longer than they had before. Once again, the rarity of movies changed my life. My husband and I sat on the couch one night, watching the speculative beauty of What Dreams May Come drift across the screen. I wept repeatedly, my own sorrow matching that conveyed on the screen, and simultaneously experiencing wonder and hope that the possibilities.
But sorrow is a funny thing. I've experienced it a few times in my life, never to the depths I know many feel, but enough that it permeates my mind, distracts from what I would prefer to be doing, creating a feeling of lethargy and a wish to fade. Thinking I was going to embrace a movie to bring about laughter and add some color back into my life, I turned to the comedic. I didn't know anything about Patch Adams when I sat down to watch it, but quickly found it provided the connection I was seeking.
I felt like that movie gave me the chance to laugh in the face of sorrow, even if it was only a patch, something small to fix the problem for now.
Last night, after hearing of Robin William's passing, my heart broke. He was the actor, the person with the insight, who motivated me to pursue my passions as a teen, to seek a career that would allow me to impact others, who gave me permission to weep and encouraged me to heal.
And this was just the start.
I am so grateful that he shared his vision and passion and lessons and laughter with the world.
Mr. Robin Williams - I hope you have found an eternity of peace and laughter.