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Robin Williams, 1 Year On

I wrote this nearly a year ago, for the then-only-just-deceased Robin Williams… I wanted to fix it, to make it better for the anniversary of his death, but it’s been a busy year and this is what I’ve got. I’d rather post it than not, though.

This is *not* “O Captain, My Captain,” nor even a decent parody (the rhyme scheme ran away with itself, and I was powerless to stop it; there are too many syllables at many points, and at least one extra stanza) but it most certainly *is* an homage to that poem, to Walt Whitman, to the movie “Dead Poets Society” and, most of all, to Robin Williams, the… oh, fuck it. He was a legend, and I don’t have the words, but here’s my best attempt.

If you’re somewhere reading it, Robin, I hope you’re touched by my efforts. You were such a generous human being, I know you won’t judge me for the many stylistic errors.

O Captain, my Captain–
You jumped the fucking ship?
You’re overboard, we’re over-bored
Without your perfect quips.

Don’t get me wrong, the voyage long was more than you could bear
I get the why, it’s just that I
can’t stop my useless tears.

And oh fuck! Wank! Shit!
Oh the movies never made!
Oh the vast routines where genius gleams
now stuck in endless shade!

O Captain, my Captain, how have we lost your spark,
When all the world your jokes unfurl
to chase away their dark?

Oh Captain, our brother,
We’d share with you our pills
Our memories bright of how your light
has lessened all our ills.

Although he does not answer,
Although his family weeps,
I think I’m right, this is just night
And he’s merely fast asleep.

His lamp unrubbed, his lines un-flubbed
To Orson he does not fly;
In a jungle great he merely waits for an 8, perhaps a 5.

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When the World Was So New and All

The above is a quote from one of Rudyard Kipling’s stories, written, I believe, for his young son. In political outlook and the like, Kipling was actually pretty diametrically opposed to most of the things I most believe in; but the man had some turn-of-phrase. Poems, short stories, nearly everything I’ve ever read by him, I either liked or loved, if not for the sentiments expressed, for the way they were expressed. But more often than not, I love the actual story, as well, because the emotional impact is so high (even when the morality you’re being spoonfed is very much not to ones taste) …but you can’t tell me there’s not a lot to admire, in a lot of the man’s works. Example: I will not be judged for my love of the story Rikki Tikki Tavi, because that mongoose is a BOSS.

The reason I’m quoting the above, however, has to do with the phrase itself, rather than one of Kipling’s stories. In “Just So Stories for Little Children,” the phrase is used to denote a time when everything was unfolding, the laws of nature hadn’t been fully worked out yet, the animals exist but are still finding their feet (paws, tails, the wrinkles in their skin) and thus, things go a bit off-course from time to time, but they work out okay in the end. I always liked the idea of the earth being new, and fresh, and bright; of there being an air of expectation about the world, and a receptiveness to the idea that things might change, eve suddenly, and that’s fine too. I didn’t deal very well with unexpected change, as a child–but I hoped for a time when maybe I would.

That time is upon me now, it seems. At the age of 31, I have finally learned, at least occasionally, that activities can change, or be added, or be taken away, without ruining the construction of the whole (the whole being my life). I have begun several new projects lately, and while they have all been hit and miss, I have both the feeling that there are more hits than misses, AND that the misses are not catastrophic events. When a thing happens that I did not expect, apparently, I can sometimes roll with it, take it as it comes, and carry on, more or less unscathed.

Is this what being an adult is like? Is this feeling that one wrong move will not destroy me… maturity?

I don’t know, but whatever this liberating notion is, I shall cultivate it. For maybe the first time in my existence, I really feel like all of the following is true: I’m not a victim of circumstance, my choices are my own, I have various options to choose from, and whatever happens, no one needs to worry for me, because I’ll be alright in the end. This, chickadees… this is real freedom. Not the freedom that’s just another word for, nothin’ left to lose (thank you, Kris Kristofferson and Janis Joplin) but… freedom that literally means, “I can move around with relative confidence in myself and the world around me.”

In the privacy of my first-ever own home, I started singing the song below over a decade ago, when I left the safety of my mother’s house to make a new life half a world away… and, like a self-fulfilling prophecy you can only mention to yourself, it’s finally started to come true. It *is* like a brave new world (that has such creatures in it–and they are my friends, for the most part!) and I wish to live forever, in this world that is so brave and new and all.

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