August 11, 2014
1951 – 2014
“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
The above quotation has adorned my about page since this website launched and has been my intended senior yearbook quote for even longer. Never has one simple statement so eloquently described more or less my entire philosophy on life. And I doubt I’m alone in this. The desire to remain creative, unusual, and individualistic is likely strong in many people, and probably exists to some extent in everyone else. I don’t believe anyone can ever be completely unique, there are just too many people in the world for that to be possible. However, I also don’t believe anyone can ever be exactly like anyone else. No one fits any mold perfectly, and that’s a good thing. If an assembly line robot breaks, it is simply replaced. Nothing of true value is lost. These mindless automatons bring nothing new to the table, they just go through the motions, doing exactly as they’re told, exactly what their predecessors did, and exactly what their successors will do.
Humans are not like that. Like Williams said, everyone has a spark of madness. But not everyone does the same thing with it. Some people nurture their spark, using it to unleash groundbreaking levels of creativity. These people become the great artists and thinkers of the world. What do Bill Gates and Robert Rodriguez have in common? Look no further than that. The vast majority, however, don’t go this far. Like it or not, most of us will end up stuck doing mindless, repetitive work, whether as a blue collar janitor or a white collar pencil pusher. Despite this, the spark of madness lives on. Maybe in the used car salesman who plays in a rock band after work. Maybe in the barista developing the next big smartphone app. Maybe even in the construction worker who, while staring at the world below from the top of an unfinished skyscraper, comes up with an idea all his own.
Robin Williams is gone. He is not an assembly line robot, and cannot be replaced. His legacy, however, is far from over. People still watch his movies. They laugh at his comedic roles and are moved by his dramatic ones. That will not change for a long time. The madness that made him special will never be replicated perfectly in anyone else, it’s gone forever. But the concept of madness will live on. It was here before Robin Williams existed, and will remain here even after his passing. Williams’ legacy is one of immense creativity. He took full advantage of all the madness he had in him to do great things. But you don’t have to be the next Robin Williams to channel yours as well. Every time you do something creative, unique, unexpected, or individual, you’re demonstrating the madness that makes you more valuable than an automaton. Always be creating. Whether you want to tell a story, build a gadget, make someone laugh, or just have a good time, keep doing it. There are no rules or limits on what you can come up with, except for the ones you place on yourself. It doesn’t matter if you go completely off the wall or just a bit out of the ordinary. It just matters that you go somewhere. It just matters that you don’t let your spark of madness die.
Rest in peace Robin Williams. You will be missed, but the impact you’ve made will live on.
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