When I wrote yesterday’s post, I didn’t know that Robin Williams had passed away. When I found out, I didn’t want to think too hard about it – he’d been a huge part of my childhood and my formative years. This (admittedly non-personal) loss didn’t seem real, and I didn’t want it to be real. But I nevertheless found some time to immerse myself in everyone else’s tributes to him, taking comfort in the knowledge that he continues to inspire the world despite his tragic passing.
One Robin Williams quote I came across struck me especially hard:
You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.
It’s a sage piece of advice, often forgotten by people like myself. We let the pressures of everyday life get to us. We listen to people who tell us what should or should not be done in order to be happy. We allow ourselves to believe in standards that do not apply to us.
We forget that parts of ourselves are completely batshit crazy, and that we sometimes need to let them out. We need to be irrationally driven towards writing, drawing, performing, entertaining; it doesn’t even matter if it benefits us financially in the long run because, in the long run, what it benefits are our souls. It’s part of acknowledging and recognizing the shapes of our own faces, the sounds of our voices, the colors of our own thoughts. To ignore that in favor of “more practical matters”, to stifle the little light that we’re supposed to let shine (to loosely quote the scripture of my childhood), is to erase what we would have been to the world.
Those wonderful words from the great Mr. Williams are a great inspiration to me right now. Lately, in my quest to “better myself”, I had become more than a little lax in my efforts to hold on to my spark – which, in this case, pertains to my more personal writing projects. As excited as I am to learn new things like what triggers Google Search Ads to appear or the awesome uses of pivot tables and the wonderful way opacity can be controlled in CSS (though I still need to work on my level of taste when it comes to “designing webpages”), I can’t really deny that I feel most alive and most myself when I’m writing or reading something that I connect with.
Maybe that’s why I was compelled to post a photo of my pre-bedtime writing implements on Instagram last night:
There was this need to remember that allowing myself to be is important, even if it’s just in the form of making entries in my gratitude journal, planner, and personal diary every night.
It doesn’t work for everybody – some people might feel better doing sketches or coding, on any other part of the day – but this is what helps me sustain the spark of madness that Robin Williams was talking about. This is what’s stopping me from completely giving up on the dream of publishing fiction. This is what keeps me going despite all my anxieties over money and my personal as well as professional life. This, despite its personal nature, is what I’m most proud of – this insane desire to write out in cursive everything that could think of to write. I’m proud of this, even though I don’t make enough money out of this to feed my family (not yet, in any case).
I don’t want to lose this spark. Mr. Williams is right – I musn’t. And neither should you.
It’s one of the greatest legacies of this man, even he himself didn’t feel how special he was – shining a light on what makes humanity great, helping us laugh past the darkness. The light is dimmer now that he’s gone; the least we could do to honor this humbling human being would be to let our sparks glow in his wake.
Do you feel like you’re losing your spark? What are you doing to hold on to it?