Oh captain, my captain: walking out of the room feeling good but sadly the trip is done

Oh captain, my captain: walking out of the room feeling good but the trip is done


We lost a grand comedic force due to grand depression. Simple statement yet a complicated life and situation. Robin Williams was known across the generations whether it was Mork and Mindy, Good Morning Vietnam, Jumanji or Mrs. Doubtfire. Personally for me, he will always be Mr. Keating, our Captain, in Dead Poet’s Society.


I was young and impressionable, attending a private school when I watched Dead Poet’s Society for the very first time. There was no more powerful, motivating scene at that time than when the characters played by Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, and Josh Charles stand on their desks and recite in emotional, jagged harmony “oh captain, my captain“.


Leaving the movie theater I hit the streets of Barcelona filled with grand notions of carpe diem. It may seem silly but I left that theater feeling like an empowered young woman with much to seize upon. That movie was not trivial. Rather, it marked a collective moment of uplifted consciousness for a Generation X that was getting ready to take some independent steps.


Robin Williams was a chameleon taking on and blending into every role whether it was comedy or drama. Such talent, mirth and charisma. By all accounts, of those expressing their sorrow in social media, every moment with Robin Williams left you feeling good. One television reporter on CNN noted she never knew what to expect in a sit down interview with him, but that undoubtedly you always left the room feeling good. He was always “on” but not in a bad way. He didn’t come off as fake. His “on” mode was to make you feel good. In trying to get us involved in his grand philanthropic passion he hosted Comic Relief USA telethons. He helped raised millions to help out the homeless by making us laugh.


Individuals that always find a good laugh in even the gloomiest situations should be considered gems. The power of laughter should never be underestimated. Although, clearly he was hurting behind all that laughter. Media reports note that cause of death may be suicide. He had been open about his battle with addiction. Some noted he suffered from depression. Even his battle with alcoholism he turned into a comedic moment. It disarmed and put at ease the listener but the pain was still there.


Many are taking to social media to ask individuals to take mental health issues seriously and seek help. Sadly, stigma around mental health still exists. Despite so many public tragedies precipitated in part by mental health issues, the resources needed to address mental health remain inadequate. When will we get real about stigma and mental health?


Thinking back to Robin, apparently his heart was as grand as his comedic talent. Heart and laughs made for a good soul.


Oh captain. My captain. That time has come. The trip is sadly done.

4 replies »

  1. Good not go softly into that good night. Rage rage against the dying of the light. Thank you for this very fair and kind op ed on Mr. Williams. Growing up watching Mork, he later taught me to seize the day as well. A generation or two of people have lost a fine man…not just an entertainer. God bless his family. It is hey who will feel the loss most keenly. How does one turn the light switch back on when the power is gone?


  2. Perhaps the more that we, as a society, can talk openly about the reality of depression the more that people who experience it will feel able to seek help accordingly. Many suffer in silence until it’s too late.


  3. Beautiful post. I was also empowered by Dead Poets Society. Very, very sad though how many comedians do hide sadness behind the humour. Got to wonder whether the burden of making others laugh, or lifting a painful mood means never getting to acknowledge your own pain.


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