In the days and weeks following the tragic death of actor/comedian Robin Williams in August of 2014, many Boston-area fans paid tribute at the site of one of Williams’ most iconic scenes. His Academy Award-winning performance as therapist Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting (1997) included a moving scene in which Maguire quietly confronts his patient, troubled young genius Will Hunting (Matt Damon), while they are seated on a bench next to a pond in Boston’s Public Gardens.
I visited the site in October of 2019 and left a small token of tribute on the bench. There is a great deal to be said, I think, for this type of memorial pilgrimage and ritual. As ephemeral as a given gesture or tribute may be, the simple physical fact of it, the sentimental and sensory experience in the moment, can also be truly meaningful.