“…medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”
So Robin Williams didn’t write these words, but he’s the one who said them (as Mr. Keating in Dead Poet’s Society) in a way that made me pay attention and remember.
I first heard these lines as a senior in high school, sitting in a movie theater with several disgruntled friends (they wanted to see some shoot-em’-up blockbuster movie, I don’t remember which now, but I insisted we see Dead Poet’s Society. I was so stubborn about it, I flat out told them I’d go alone if they weren’t going to be persuadable, and I got a lot of heavy sighing and eye-rolling in return…but to this day I don’t regret standing my ground to see it even if I had to be pretty annoying to get what I wanted at the time). Those lines, and so many others from this single movie stuck with me for years and years and I truly believe that a lot of what I took away from it made me want to be a writer in later years.
Because (from the same movie): “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” More lines delivered by Robin Williams. His is the voice I hear in my head telling me these words are true. I credit him for making me want to share my own words.
Robin Williams made me laugh. A lot. And that’s a beautiful thing. But he also made me think and feel.
“To quote from Whitman, ‘O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’ Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?” —Robin Williams as Mr. Keating, Dead Poet’s Society
What will your verse be?