“You are only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it”  Robin Williams


Madness. That is one powerful word.

It brings to my mind images of people with bright twinkles in their eyes and infectious smiles that make you want to know what is happening in their thoughts.

Madness can also bring to mind images of people who have suffered a great deal of trauma and emotional upheaval.

It can bring to mind unsettling thoughts of those who can’t seem to move out of sadness, depression, anxiety, or constant fear and the feeling that the world is an unsafe and unpredictable place.

Poets and scientists have both made links between these two things – creative genius and emotional suffering.

Robin Williams was certainly a creative genius whose light and spark of energy lit up the world through his work and his life. His recent death brought me great sadness, as I know it did for many other people around the world. I continue to be grateful for what he offered all of us while he was here – for much too short of a time. I wish we had been able to watch his genius continue to grow and deepen for many more years.

“You are only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it” 

I saw this quote by Robin Williams soon after his death and it struck me. I think about the work we do at the Children’s Advocacy Center with children and teens whose lives have been altered by abuse and neglect, and I think about how the abuse affects them.

I have seen how the work of our team helps them move out of the feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety, and I hope that it helps everyone who comes here feel that the world is just a bit safer, a bit more predictable, and certainly a bit more kind.

Creative madness – the kind that creates new inventions and dares to take risks and makes leaps between things that seem unrelated but that, when brought together, invite new ideas and actions – that is something this world continues to need.

We need to experience the genius that can come from suffering, as well as the genius that comes from just plain, old creative impulses.

I firmly believe that the way out of suffering and chaos can be found in the type of creative “madness” often spurred by the original acts that caused the suffering.

When we let ourselves feel deep pain and confusion – and when we support others in doing the same – creativity can open places that have been blocked and a healthy type of “madness” can give us the energy and impetus to move forward, make changes, and create new paths in our lives.

Great creative geniuses can help to create new paths that leave a wide road behind them for others to follow.

They can teach us, in ways large and small, about the inevitable new opportunities that come after defeat in the endless cycles of our lives.

Thank you, Robin Williams, for sharing your creative spirit with us.

I will remember this invitation when I feel troubled by sadness or grief. I will try to let the wild and forceful energy that comes from difficult experiences create in me a creative type of madness, the type that breaks down barriers and opens the way for something new, something better than I might have imagined before.

May we all remember this, and may we always help those amongst us who need our support in times of tragedy, abuse, and suffering.

Help us remember the creative genius that is there, within us all, just ready to be tapped.