Williams Bacall Iyengar

cheers geniuses

It was just after midnight on a Tuesday. I had been out at our local bar, drinking good beers, talking about the eccentricities of life with my beautiful husband and our favorite bartender.

Then, when I slipped into my jammies at home, I found out about a third tragedy—after Robin Williams, after Lauren freaking Bacall. Another great loss to mankind.

B.K.S. Iyengar.

Dammit, I lost it. I finally, finally cried because I couldn’t do anything else. I should have gone to bed. I needed to get up for work the next morning.

But suddenly I was charged with emotional energy to write this little piece. My mediocre tribute to these great people.

I made myself some tea, put my headphones on, and started writing. Shit, this is epic for me. To lose all of these gorgeous souls within a week…brace yourselves.

 Robin Williams – Monday, August 11, 2014

Lauren Bacall – Tuesday, August 12, 2014

B.K.S. Iyengar – Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I sobered up enough to write this post. I promise it will not be my most eloquent work, but I felt compelled to write something. How could I not?


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

I avoided the Robin Williams tribute because I was floored when I heard the news, and I knew I couldn’t do a magical man like him any sort of justice. I grew up with him, as this sort of distant uncle who seemed to know everything I didn’t.

He portrayed the mysteries of life through acting with a dedication and grace that I have never seen before—Dead Poets Society, What Dreams May Come, The Birdcage—these are films that genuinely capture the human spirit.

They are brilliant, and Robin was a key player in that brilliance.

I had just returned from a romantic weekend in Seattle with Mr. H and I felt peaceful, loved, and hopeful. Then, the next day at work, a coworker of mine came dashing over with the news. Robin was gone.

I didn’t believe her. How could he?

My first boyfriend (and my first kiss) killed himself during my Sophomore year in high school. Right on the baseball field…a bullet to his lovely head. Suicide is not something I take lightly. I’ve known those who have threatened loneliness and I’ve known those who have acted on true alienation from that which we call the “norm”.

It’s scary. It’s heart-wrenching, It’s out there.

I wish it wasn’t, believe me. If I could figure out a way to absorb this from anyone…I would.


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Right after one of my film heroes—Mr. Robin Williams—Bacall followed a day later. The pretty songbird that I had known for so long had left my window. She was gone and it was so eerily quiet.

Bacall was, quite simply…beauty. She was an effortless woman, with her infamous voice and come-hither appeal. Beyond the exterior, Bacall’s acting was top-drawer—always provocative, smart, and moving.

I’ve been a classic films aficionado for a good decade now. I respect Grace Kelly, I adore Audrey Hepburn, and I caved in to the charms of Marilyn Monroe.

But, Bacall. Just listen and watch. She was a force, a damn gorgeous force.


Photo: Yoga Journal
Courtesy of Yoga Journal

Where do I begin? Iyengar came to me much later when I was pursuing my Yoga teacher certification a year ago. I know what you’re thinking…big whoop. “Light on Life” by Iyengar is typically a required book.

Honestly, I didn’t want to read it. I certainly didn’t think I would like it.

On the cover was this man with bright white hair and matching eyebrows, smiling in a red robe, seemingly important and happy. Because he was important. Because he was happy.

He was Iyengar, the man who brought Yoga to those of us who truly needed it most…those of us in the West.

Last October I wrote a post called “I Am Still Learning”, which was inspired by Iyengar’s humble wisdom. I was a lost adult in so many ways until I found Yoga, until I connected with this man from another part of the world, a man who didn’t know I existed but didn’t care.

In some weird way, he was there for me when I needed him.

I’m not a religious person, but I am deeply spiritual. My faith belongs solely to the exquisiteness of mankind. Iyengar provided a connection to this realization and I will forever be grateful for that.

Williams, Bacall, and Iyengar left us. I can’t explain it, but I felt a strong kinship with all three of these incredible humans and I must say this…

Robin…thank you for your amusement, your intelligence, your cool.

Lauren…thank you for your loveliness, your emotion, your grace.

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (B.K.S.)…thank you for your influence, your spirit, your love.

If I had it my way, things would be so different. But there will not be an official holiday for any of these magnanimous souls. And so we will all go our separate ways—some will mourn, some won’t feel a thing.

I will forever know that these strangers did something special…and that they meant something very special to me.

32 thoughts on “Williams Bacall Iyengar

  1. Britt what a beautiful post and tribute to three inspiring individuals. Life can be gone in a blink of an eye and so we must treasure these memories. I adore Lauren and grew up watching and loving Robin. I never had the pleasure of knowing B.K.S. IYENGAR but am sure he was meant to cross paths with you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and spirit.

    1. Thanks, Kath. It kind of came out of nowhere, but I had to let it out. They weren’t kidding when they said life is short. It goes so quickly. We just need to live as awesomely as we can!

  2. I couldn’t, and still can’t, bear the news of Robin Williams. My little post helped me kind of sort through the basic, ordinary questions — but I am still struggling with how depression could destroy such greatness. I so wish that he could have somehow gotten a leg up and turned the tables on depression and used his experiences to help others. I really think that helping someone else might have helped him beat it, too. Then, we’d still have him around. But, then again, I also don’t know the depth and breadth of his pain. Maybe this was the only answer.

    I was devastated about Lauren Bacall, too. I hate losing all those wonderful classic stars. She was a powerhouse, elegant, and talented. Curling up with one of her movies is a great way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.

    I didn’t know anything about BKS Iyengar, but I appreciate his profound affect on you and your life. Anyone who can make a positive mark on someone else has completed an important job in life.

    1. I know, honey. You and another dear friend of mine wrote poignantly beautiful Williams tributes, but I refrained until now. Bacall happening the next day was another shock. Then when I found out about Iyengar right when I was crawling into bed at midnight and peeked at my dang phone, I jumped up and grabbed my laptop to pay my small tribute.

      I must say that I do feel a sense of release after writing this. Perhaps it was something I needed to acknowledge.

  3. It’s hard when things like this happen one after the other. Takes the wind out of your sails. 😦 I have just been watching a report on Iyengar on the BBC. Apparently he was still doing handstands until last year. Amazing man.

    1. Agreed! And this trio, although they are all so different from one another, really hit me hard. Iyengar is an amazing man and an inspiration to many, many people. I hope I’ll still be doing handstands in my nineties!

      1. I hope so, too! Robin’s death was sad, but even sadder is that his suicide is one of the growing number of suicides amongst middle aged men. Perhaps we all need a bit more Iyengar in our lives. By the way, my Kindle says I am 62% through Nola Fran Evie. the plot thickens. 🙂

        1. As I mentioned in the post, suicide is not something I take lightly after losing my first boyfriend in high school. So Williams going that way really upset me, because I just couldn’t believe it.

          More Iyengar is good for all of us. He helped me a lot!

          62% in? You’re really in there! : )

          Hey, I sent you an email about the totem pole and life enthusiast stuff. Did you happen to get it?

  4. Wonderful post! The only thought I can add from 80 years of life experience is: “You can’t lose people you love! They stay with you until you follow them in another world!”.

    1. Yes, it’s so unfortunate. I heard about it via social media within the first two hours of the announcement. It deeply affected me so I sat down and wrote like mad. Iyengar touched many lives, but we will certainly remember his greatness in the Yoga community.

  5. Here, we always say these things happen in ‘threes’, but I would probably never have heard about Iyengar without your post Britt. This was a wonderful tribute to three special people who affected you in different ways. Bacall is the one I personally felt closest to, it’s sad to see what I think of as ‘proper’ movies stars leaving us, because they’re the end of an era that will never come again.

    1. They definitely do happen in threes! Iyengar was predominately (if not totally) responsible for bringing Yoga to the West, so he’s a big deal in the Yoga community. He was in his nineties and still doing handstands, if you can believe it!

      Bacall was really a special woman. I agree with you on the end of an era with these incredible Hollywood stars. Films and actors are just not as good as they once were…with a few rare exceptions. I proudly hang onto those classic movies and respect the actors and actresses from those times. I don’t care if it makes me appear a little kooky! : )

  6. I think it says a wonderful thing about human nature when the death of someone we don’t personally know affects us so. I felt an unexpected grief when Steve Irwin died some years back. I found it heartbreaking that someone so full of life could be gone in an instant like that, especially from a freak accident after all the more risky things he’d done.

    You’ve given a lovely tribute to three remarkable people. May their families draw comfort from the outpouring of support and well-wishes coming their way from people around the world.

    1. I totally agree. I haven’t been affected by many “famous” deaths until this trio happened. It was also an unexpected grief that smashed into me once Iyengar went. I can see how Steve Irwin could have that effect. That was such a crazy thing…and so freaking sad.

      I hope their families can feel the love as well.

  7. What a great tribute. It’s amazing how much impact people can have on our lives without us every meeting. I was very saddened to hear of Robin and Bacall. They contributed so much to so many. 🙂 This is an amazing tribute to all 3.

    1. It is amazing how strangers, even famous ones, can impact us…absolutely! This particular sequence of events was too much for me to take. I was okay, stunned but okay, until Iyengar passed away the other night. I had to write something for them.

  8. Lovely post Britt. This is even though I don’t have the capacity to care so deeply for the passing on of people I’ve never met. Maybe I’ve hardened my heart so that it doesn’t hurt as much.

    1. Honestly, Roy. This is the first time I’ve been hit like this. I usually don’t react much to deaths of people I don’t know. For some reason this trio did me in, especially when Iyengar passed away. Strangely I felt a solid connection with all three of them, even though they were so different. Writing the piece, as always, was a good form of therapy.

  9. A lovely tribute to three beautiful souls, Britt. It’s always amazing how we are touched by people we never meet and how we touch people we never meet. I think this may be one of the most powerful aspects of art.

  10. This was such a lovely tribute, Britt. I still can’t accept the fact that Robin is dead, and yet every time I see him on TV now my heart aches a little and I quickly look away. I know he probably doesn’t want his legacy to be avoided like that, but it’s still too painful. I will return to his movies eventually because they’ve always given me such joy, but for now, my brain is still far from digesting the truth. 😦

  11. This is a lovely post and tribute, Britt. My daughter said the passing of Robin Williams was like the tooth fairy dying – she was very upset. I loved Lauren Bacall, what an amazing woman! I didn’t know about B.K.S. Iyengar, but another great loss for the world. Life is fragile and we must live every moment we can xxxx

    1. Thanks, doll. Now that you say that, it really was a lot like the tooth fairy dying. There was a bit of magic that just disappeared with all three of these great people.

      Let’s live it up…abso-freaking-lutely! xoxoxo

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