I learned of Robin Williams’ death while I was with Patch Adams MD on our annual clown trip to the Peruvian Amazon. We are here with supporting the Belen Project a community health initiative that’s been going on here for the last 10 years.
Clowns from all over the world have been coming to this impoverished community in the middle of the Amazon floodplain to work with children, collaborate with community service organizations, conduct street clinics, paint homes, and create murals… all promoting community health.
As soon as the news of Robin’s suicide came out reporters appeared at the door of Patch’s hotel asking for his response. Patch, in his usual style, told them he was here working with the Belen Project and wanted to talk about that. The media had no interest in pursuing that, and Patch told them that he lamented this tragic loss of Robin’s genius talent, and was grateful for his extraordinary gifts that reminded people of our shared humanity.
There is no question that the movie made Patch the most recognized humanitarian clown in the world, but the fact is Patch hadn’t spoken or corresponded with Robin (or anybody else involved in the movie) after the first year of its release.
The movie is not what Patch Adams MD is all about, that’s a Hollywood version, and the story ends when Patch graduates from medical school at age 25. Patch is now 69 years old, and for the last 40+ years still trying to build his hospital in West Virginia. He has committed his life to supporting his prophetic vision that love can heal individuals, communities, and planet.
The reporters weren’t interested in his tireless work for peace and social justice; they only wanted his thoughts on Robin Williams The problems in Belen (gut wrenching poverty, disease, violence, sexual exploitation, political disenfranchisement) were not reported because the worship of celebrity and sensationalism seems to be more real.
Robin could make us laugh until we couldn’t catch our breath, but he extinguished his own because of his suffering. I lament the loss of this comic genius, and am pained that no drug or doctor could save him from himself.
Patch said, “ I wish we could have become pals… I could have loved him in his loneliness.
Patch wanted to add his own commentary, so I encourage those of you who only read my Schlagbytes, to also watch this one.