Yesterday afternoon I hit a writing high. I wrote a blog post in the morning, revamped my layout in the afternoon, and submitted an article after work. Every hour brought a new blog post idea, and by the time I left the house to write at a coffee shop, I was on fire.
Yet a strong melancholy creeped its way into my evening. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first. And then it hit me, today was the anniversary of Robin Williams’ passing. You see, even though his death is by no means about me, he was my generation’s Peter Pan, on and off the screen. In his spirit and unbridled silliness, I found comfort that even though I was constantly growing up, here was proof that you can still live your life as an enthusiastic child, especially as a performer.
I was walking home from a dance class last year today when I got the news. I called my mom and we cried together over the phone. His beautiful life had a lot to do with me wanting to be an actor, and I guess it selfishly hit me that I would never have the chance to shake his hand and thank him for this. But again, it isn’t about me.
I have always been an irrational believer in signs. When I started thinking about all this while writing in the coffee shop last night, I pressed further into the editing of my article, desperate to get it done so I could walk home. Suddenly, a shiny blue sneaker poked into my peripheral vision. I looked up and a small wide-eyed boy, probably about six, stared at me, unforgivingly stretching out his leg in front of him.
“Do you like my new shoes?!” he yelled with excitement.
“I do!” I said, “The colors are so bright and awesome!”
He ran back to his mom’s table happily and sat down. She swiveled in her chair and apologized, “I’m so sorry to interrupt you, he never does that. He just suddenly said, ‘I need to ask her about my shoes!’”
I laughed, told her it wasn’t a problem and waved at the boy. I smiled and returned to my writing. When the mother was paying later on, he snuck by my chair and sat in the seat across the table from me without saying a word.
Just then, an adorable toddler walked by the coffee shop (I was sitting by the window), locked his sights on me, squealed with delight, and pulled his dad into the coffee shop. I waved when he came in and then he ran to the barista for a hug (clearly he was the cutest regular ever).
I developed a new enthusiasm for my writing, perked up by the adorable and unexpected visitors. I paid and walked home. Now maybe it was just a growth in my awareness, but I felt like every kid in the neighborhood was out enjoying the unseasonably cool air. A girl on her bike passed by and said hello with the familiarity of an old friend. Just as I thought I was making it all up, I walked into my backyard only to be greeted by my upstairs neighbor and her painfully adorable 1 year old daughter.
She has recently learned to walk, well waddle, and took a determined journey to our garden to retrieve a ground cherry that had fallen off its stem. She nearly face-planted to lean over, grabbed the muddy fruit and launched herself up to her feet. With a dramatic swivel, she reached up with kindness and offered me the cherry.
Well, there was my answer. If you, or your soul or your energy, or whatever you believe, goes anywhere after you leave this earth, then perhaps Robin Williams sent me a hoard of smiling children the moment I started to feel sad about his premature departure. And if not, if it was all a coincidence, then his memory allowed me to find meaning in a wave of generous toddlers. I said good night to the adorable little girl, went inside, poured myself a glass of wine, and watched the impending storm from the porch with childlike enthusiasm.
My mom has always talked about saving money for a rainy day. Today, at least in North Jersey, it plans to pour for most of the afternoon. I have also been very personally affected by the inexplicable pain of depression and anxiety, a disease which still strongly eludes this country’s understanding, so I know a good amount about doing something nice for yourself or a loved one on a rainy day.
Today I suggest a loving, enthusiastic child-like act in remembrance of our fellow-human who inspired us in his work to see the innocent enthusiasm in all things. Find a rainy day adventure, as simple as it may be, and do it in honor of those who may be struggling to find their inner kid.
Thanks for reading.