Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mr Rogers

I will freely admit that the recent events in Boston shook me up some, as it did many people.  As I was browsing through my Facebook feed after work, thinking about all the things going on and seeing the reactions of my friends and loved ones, I came across the now famous 'Look for the helpers' picture and quote that has spread across the internet.  Normally, when I see something like that my first instinct is to head to Snopes to find out if it's real or not, but for some reason the thought never occurred to me, it felt right, it felt true, and completely out of character for me I shared it, believing it would help others feel just a little better, like it did for me.

The good news is the quote checks out, apparently goes back to sometime around '83.  Normally, I'd care more, but just this once, I don't find myself being all that concerned.  It's good advice, calm but uplifting at the same time.  It did nothing to mitigate the tragedy of what happened, but it did help put it into perspective. It fits the way he presented himself to us, and the advice he often gave.

Just in case there's someone who doesn't know reading this, Fred Rogers had a TV show on Public Television here in the States called Mr Roger's Neighborhood .  No idea how wide it was rebroadcast, but it had a fairly deep cultural impact on my generation.  It wasn't anything fancy, some puppets and video clips, and always Mr Rogers there to make you feel welcome, and I think that was one of his greatest gifts.  No mater where you were, he made you feel like you were welcome to come over and spend some time with him, in a rather calm and low key manner.  No car chases, no rockets going off all over the place, almost like a half hour sanctuary from all the dashing back and forth.  I think the fastest moving thing that regularly appeared was the magic trolley that took you to the land of make believe. 

Maybe that was what made him stand out, and gave him that enduring legacy, that calm, laid back, but still caring nature that he seemed to have.  Like he was everyone's Grandfather who you got to visit and learn from. Not anything too bookish, he left that sort of thing to the Sesame Street types, but things like how factories worked, or how packages were delivered.  That grey area of not quite trivia, but not quite useful information that helps you understand how the world we live in works.

Ultimately that's probably why he had such a lasting impact on me and my generation, the openness and welcoming nature he seemed to have combined with the calming but not boring way of letting you learn about the world around you.   He died a little over ten years ago, and it still seems like the world is a slightly darker place for his passing.

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