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‘The powerful play goes on’

Robin Williams touched millions of lives around the world, including at least one Peterborough resident — perhaps more — who appeared as an extra in “Jumanji,” which was filmed in Keene in the mid-1990s. But even if you never shared a set with the famed actor, it’s likely you too have been influenced by the raw talent and humor of one whose spirit seemingly reached out from the screen.

In “What Dreams May Come,” a film he co-stared in with Annabella Sciorra and Cuba Gooding Jr. in the late 1990s, Williams plays a husband and father in a family plagued by tragedy and the suicide of one of its members. After seeing that film, and so many others, in which Williams plays the hero — not the “Superman” role his good friend Christopher Reeve took on, but something close — it’s hard to believe Williams was in the end just like the rest of us: vulnerable to the frailties of being human.

His struggle with depression, drugs and alcohol, and ultimately his suicide early this week are reminders that each of us, no matter how high we may climb, sometimes need help, and we always need the love and support of others. Some of us may need a little more at certain times of our lives, but it’s comforting to know we’re all in this thing called life together. As much as we may be hurting, we have to be willing to reach out to our fellows, to our friends, our families, yoga teachers, coaches, principals, ministers, colleagues, doctors, counselors, husbands, wives. And when we can’t, we have to let others reach us. We have to open that door, no matter how difficult it may be.

In the Monadnock region we are fortunate that, despite the budget cuts and despite the difficult years we’ve had with the economy, there are still people and organizations there to help in our time of need. The River Center. Monadnock Family Services. MAPS Counseling Services. N.H. Suicide and Crisis Hotlines. The Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention. Home Healthcare, Hospice and Community Services. Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter. Shelter From the Storm. Monadnock Developmental Services. The Phoenix House. The Samaritans, Inc. Southwestern Community Services, and countless others.

Depression and suicide are no easy things to understand, much less talk about — and that goes for everyone. But pain and suffering is what it’s about, and that’s something we can all relate to.

Williams’ legacy will be his insatiable funny bone, the way he inspired his audiences and his goodwill toward men. And that’s what must be remembered, the good in everyone. “That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.... What will your verse be?”

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