The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And 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. 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?”

“The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.”

From the first moment I found out about the passing of Robin Williams, this line has been stuck in my head. Over and over and over it plays.

“The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.”

I found out at work, and I immediately got something in my eye. Either that or those damned ninjas were cutting onions again… I went home from work and just curled up in a ball on my couch and watched Dead Poets Society. It’s been my favorite of his since I first saw it when I was in high school. It wasn’t one of his funniest movies, but it was one of, if not THE, most inspiring movies he made. He takes time to show us how to live life. So many lessons in that film.

In it he reminds us to make our lives extraordinary, to never settle for mediocre. We need to seize our day. In all of our endeavors, he reminded us that laziness just will not do. He reminded us to “suck out all the marrow of life.”

He taught us the reasons for life. That science, medicine, law, business, engineering are mobile things. But they are WHY we live. We live for art, beauty, passion, romance, love. Never confuse the two. If you forget why you are doing something, then that thing becomes meaningless.

He taught us to step out, be different; to walk with our own rhythm, in our own style. “Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!” He taught that we need to think for ourselves. Think different.

He taught us to change our perspective. Never do something a certain way just because it’s the way we’ve always done it. Take a minute and change your perspective on it.

And he taught us to think about what we will contribute to the world. Don’t just go through life. Live your life intentionally. Think about the legacy you will leave behind.

Robin Williams in his life seemed to understand that everything has a purpose. It’s why his movies were never just entertaining fluff. They always had message, they always had something he was trying to teach. “This is a battle, a war, and the casualties could be your hearts and souls.”

His verse was to cast light on the darker side of life, to bring joy to so many people. And to use that light to teach us how to do the same.

“That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

What will your verse be?”


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