It’s taken me a few days to absorb what his loss means to many. As soon as word of his death began circling, a range of people from my social networks posted how he had impacted them through one of the many characters he had played. That’s the thing — it didn’t matter what role he was in because his sense of humanity shone through every character and impacted many of us in some vulnerable place. For me, there were a few, but at the top was Dead Poets Society, where he embodied the ideal educator that strives to free you so that your dreams are limitless and so your love of learning becomes a lifelong relationship. Not far behind were, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams, Good Morning Vietnam, What Dreams May Come, Jack, August Rush, Jumanji, The Birdcage and Aladdin (I’m sure I forgot a few). In every single one of those films he is liberating someone from often self-imposed limitations, and he did it through empathy, fearlessness and love — maybe that’s why we love him. He made us laugh, cry, reflect, and realize how this ride is one to be shared because that’s where the real learning is — in our every day interactions with the people we love. So I leave you with a quote from one of his movies – not my favorite of his because I think everyone has understandably posted Whitman’s “O Captain, my Captain! our fearful trip is done” – this one, however, is from August Rush, and I think it embodies what he dared us to do: Dream!
“What do you want to be in the world? I mean the whole world. What do you want to be? Close your eyes and think about that.”