In continuing with the last post honoring Kobe, I wanted to further explore meeting idols. People that have influenced us in some way, whether it be physical, mental and/or spiritual. In some sense, it’s like they are heroes to us. Idols, heroes, role models, whatever you want to call them we dream about the opportunity to be in their presence. And then it happens for some of you. The question we all come across, at least once in our life, is when someone asks us: If you could meet anyone, alive or not, who would it be?
And we’re there left pondering for a minute or forever. We might have someone already in mind, or we start to doubt ourselves after taking a moment to truly think about it. Everyone has different interests and values, that it’s impossible to pick one general idol. We have our different reasons for choosing them. Some go for the fame, others for the humanitarian work, while several go for the discoveries and progress accomplished by that person. And then, we have to define what meeting means to us.
Does meeting someone mean seeing them across the room; knowing you both share the same space? Does it mean saying hello to them and that’s it? Or is it meeting someone and talking to them for at least a couple of minutes? How we define it is up to us, but for this post’s conversation it will refer to that last one. See, I’ve had the opportunity of “meeting” famous people I dreamed of seeing, but didn’t think it’d ever happen. Meeting is in quotations, because they either were seen or met for a brief moment. But even then, to be in the presence of someone who has had an impact on one’s life doesn’t take away the significance of it. I’ve had the fortune of seeing icons including: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Celine Dion, Jeff Goldblum, and others. It’s hard to say that without coming off as braggy, but I tried, and with all of them the context in meeting them were different. However, there has never been that one person where we simply spoke for a long period of time. So that question reappears: If I could meet anyone, who would it be?
It’s still a difficult question, because we’re throwing in people from way back when. I could say people like Joan of Arc, Nikola Tesla, Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Elvis and many others! But I’m also thinking of context again, and what would a conversation look like. For many, having that “inspirational speech” is what they want. Not me though. I would want just a honest, genuine, normal conversation that provides it’s own food-for-thought to apply in my life. With that in mind, I look at who I can sit down with and talk to without staring in disbelief. Someone who can laugh and cry with you about whatever you both talk about. For me, I’ve somewhat scavenged throughout time to look for that person. Yet in the end, I would choose someone who was one of the first people I came across as a child and followed as I grew up. And that person is. . .
“Help is on the way, dear!”
Yes, the person I would meet if I could would be Robin Williams. It was a close decision with Jim Carrey not far behind. Both influential during my early days in the 90’s and 00’s, and both providing laughs and insight; especially in times when I needed them most. Both went through dark days and rose above it, which furthered that connection. Yet in the end, I chose Robin due to how he influenced my choices along the way in my life. . . even if I did not consciously know it at the time. It may have started when I was a child through movies like Jumanji and Flubber, but the influence really began as I was in my teens going on to university and beyond. And I will always remember one movie in particular.
The scene above was one of the more minor ones in the vast array of known scenes in Patch Adams, yet it impacted me in many ways. I’ve written about it, and talked about it with friends and people just met, about stepping out of our bubble. Reaching out and meeting strangers, because we never know who is out there in this big world. You could be best friends with that person at the coffee shop or at the zoo, or maybe they live in Russia or Italy. When I was in undergrad and grad school, I always tried to connect classmates and friends with each other if I knew they’d get along great. Point is, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to our little space (whether personal or environmental). And it’s understandable if some of you are shy, as I’ve been in the same boat. Some people even get by with minimal human contact. However, even just making acquaintances and learning other peoples’ stories helps us grow in ways we can’t imagine. And as that scene above shows, and what Robin taught me, is that even if we meet this “stranger” for a brief period of time to enjoy that moment and smile. That scene added to the overall message of the movie that influenced me: help others.
I’ve been honest before that I simply cannot see myself crunching numbers all day, or locked away in a cubicle all day. I got to move around, mingle with people, and let the creative juices flowing! But most of all, I want to walk away at the end of the day knowing a difference was made that I’m happy with. Though med school never worked out in the end, despite the several attempts to chase it, I always said that there was more than one way to help others. I was able to walk away at least knowing that door can officially close with contentment. Robin was always creative in putting smiles on people’s faces. It was as if he customized every experience for every single person. And that’s what I do with the people in my life, whether professionally or personally. From daily conversation to creating something to giving gifts, everything is given with thought that will be unique to just them. Listening is so important in communication, but also knowing how to respond that shows interest and care. That goes a long way in developing relationships with friends, romantic partners, and clients/business partners. So no matter where I go, I take all this with me from that little scene in that little movie. What’s funny, though, is that helping people with their issues or goals was not what originally was going for in college.
He was one of the reasons why I pursued communications.
When I began university, way back in 2010, I was actually a comm. major. Yup, I wanted to do radio many years ago. Sports radio was something I loved listening to on the way home, or anywhere I went with my dad. There some I enjoyed listening to, and others I thought “How the heck are they even on the air?!”. But wide-eyed 18 year old Steven took others’ words about the economic outlook of such a career and changed it. This was after the 2008 recession where we all wondered how the economy would look like post-recession, so I don’t put blame on anyone for the change. Semesters of bouncing to other majors, and a Master’s degree later, here I am still being told “You have a voice for radio.”. At times, it gives hope about maybe I am meant for it. Robin had fun behind the mic. Great sports writers/radio personalities like Bill Simmons eventually have to go. Why can’t I take over? Other times, it can be frustrating hearing it and thinking how it could’ve been a missed opportunity. I say missed, since you all know about the podcast venture going on. The writing aspect also following suit.
If there’s one thing I take away from my experience, and from Robin, is that it doesn’t matter how long it takes or where we came from just as long as we actually get to doing it. Education is important, but gaining experience (whatever it may be) and connecting with others helps us reach those doors we thought improbable when we began. Making the most of our time, because we don’t know how much of it we have to play with. Notice I said play instead of work with. Even though he had his struggles in life, and died in tragedy, he encouraged us to smile and laugh. Brightening up our lives and helping us, even if he wasn’t happy some days. Teaching us that we’re not alone, and help is on the way if we ask for it.
A lot of our heroes and idols we learn are not perfect. Yet, perhaps that’s one of the reasons why we connect with them even more. I know it’s true for me. But Robin also was a family man, and I thought it was so cool he named his daughter Zelda because he loved playing the video game The Legend of Zelda. He also supported children, whether in his movies or for organizations like St. Jude’s. It was one reason why I went on to volunteer with children with special needs and tried to help at the children’s hospital before moving away for work. So if I had to pick someone to meet, it would be Robin Williams. A man that inspired and taught me many things I now share with you. Someone I can laugh and cry with over shared experiences, as opposed to a one-sided “motivational” spiel that wouldn’t feel special to me. Both his movies and real life guided me in ways I knew at that time or didn’t realize until later. But bringing positivity, being unique and creative, helping others, and encouraging myself (and people I meet) to make the most of life and explore are the biggest things I got from him. And I will always be thankful for that. Now you know who I would like to meet, and so I ask you. . . Who would you choose?