Yesterday, news broke that Robin Williams died, apparently the victim of a depression-induced suicide.
I’m not ashamed to say that I cried when I read the news. I didn’t know him, of course, but I knew many of his characters like I know my own face. I grew up with them, with his voices in my ears and in my imagination. I wanted a friend like him and a nanny like him (her?) and a teacher like him.
Last night and today, the internet is rife with outpourings of grief for a man that, to the public eye, was so filled with joy. Depression is such an insidious disease, infecting quietly and fiercely and indiscriminately. It is true darkness.
But, darkness can be overcome. I don’t pretend to know anything about mental illness. I’ve only seen the havoc it can wreak on people, have only watched, helpless, as people I love spiraled into a void that I couldn’t reach. But, I have seen them crawl out of it. I have seen them use compassion and understanding and laughter and joy to bring light into the darkness.
Robin Williams said that “Comedy is acting out optimism,” so, today, I want to talk about joy, the little things that can always make me smile. The tiny, quiet things that I often forget about (which is why you won’t see The Dude or Keke or Disney on this list), the things that surprise me into laughter or fill my heart with hope and happiness.
And, because you know how much I love lists, here’s a list of some of them:
- Stories about ordinary people doing good deeds (or, sometimes, just the right thing). You know, the things that show how truly decent people can be. Things this like this or this or this or this.
- Catching a favorite movie on TV. There’s something to special about flipping through channels and landing on a movie that you haven’t seen in forever, but that you love. This past weekend, it happened more than once and each time, I was sucked in.
- Making people laugh (and, laughing with them). Like, really laugh. The kind of laugh where you’re doubled-over and crying and have to be careful or you’ll end up on the ceiling with Uncle Albert.
- The smell of fall.
- Sitting outside with a really good cup of coffee and a book.
- Jumping out and scaring The Dude. Seriously, I love it.
- Getting cards (birthday, Halloween, Christmas, whatever).
- Halloween! I love, love, love Halloween. I’m not a partier, but I love to dress up when we go to Disney or, when we’re home, to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.
- Roasting mini marshmallows over a candle.
- Going shopping with my mom or my mom and aunt. We have the best time and spend the whole day chatting and laughing.
- Taking pictures. I don’t do it nearly enough anymore and I don’t know why. I should do something about that.
What are the things that bring you joy?