O captain, My captain



On your journey of life, there are people that inspire you and make you look within yourself. There are also some that transcend life itself (‘bigger than life’ is the phrase often used). I thought of Robin Williams as such a character.

Robin Williams was not simply a great actor, comedian, singer but also a great person. He gave away lots of time & money to charity and for many great causes. The only Robin Williams that I knew was the inspirational actor so I will focus on his most inspirational role (in my humble opinion).

That role was him as Mr Keating in “Dead Poets Society.” Robin Williams, as Mr Keating, plays a wonderful role of a teacher that has a deep impact on the students he teaches. He tries to convince his students to be themselves at all times. Life is not simply about conforming to status quo. There is nothing wrong with being different and dreaming big. The moment you try to be like somebody else is the moment that you are no longer yourself.

Be Yourself

Dare to be different. Dare to be outside the norm. Do not ever feel like you must be like everyone else even if social convention dictates that one should be within the norm to be accepted by the crowd. My advice is do not try to be in the norm if being yourself is outside the social norm. I do not consider myself to be socially ‘normal’, but I no longer try to be. If the crowd does not accept me for who I am then the crowd is irrelevant.

o captain my captain

o captain my captain

Follow your thoughts, follow your dreams. Never think you have to be like others to fit in for it is the one that dares to be different and thinks outside the box that has always changed conventional thinking (of course, this does not mean that one should go out there and commit crimes!).

One of the most inspiring things he teaches that I cling to is the notion that “words and ideas can change the world.” Every person has something within them that can help contribute something to humanity. Perhaps every person cannot be an Einstein or Gandhi or Aristotle or Shakespeare or another great figure, but every person is capable of thought and creativity in their own right.

It is simply about looking within yourself and finding out what you want in life. Ideas & thoughts are like grains of sand falling from a fist full of sand. They never stop falling. It is about how you grasp those thoughts as they fall from the fist that is you.

Thank-you, Robin Williams, for inspiring all of us. I was introduced to Robin Williams in ‘Patch Adams’ in 2003 as a 12 year old kid. I was lying in the hospital after a back surgery (full spinal fusion), and one of the nurses recommended I check out that movie. For a couple hours, I forgot about my own pain & issues, and I sat there laughing with my dad. After getting out of the hospital, I watched all his other movies. This man has inspired me over the years and instantly became my top 10 favorite actors. I am not a very emotional person, but ‘Dead Poets Society’ ending brought me to tears the first few times I watched it.

When I heard he had passed, it was a rough day for me. We lost a wonderful actor and wonderful human. You will be missed.


I keep thinking of the ending of Dead Poets Society. O CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN! Rest in peace, my friend.

Seize the day. Carpe diem.

Harsh Shukla
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