Fred Rogers is having a moment.
Seventeen years after his death, a plethora of articles, documentaries, a movie and now a 10 series podcast, exemplify and espouse the power of his children’s TV program, running from 1969 until 2001.
It seems his presence in our world is missed.
Yet sometimes his simple ideals feel like they live in his land of make-believe, estranged from the complexities of our real world.
So why this nostalgia and yearning for his company?
Mr. Rogers represents something we sense is missing in our lives – the freedom of child-like simplicity.
His inclusive welcome, his carefully measured speech, his liking us just the way we are.
Growing into adulthood, we unknowingly trade this innocence in for experience, as trust steps out and cynicism steps in. Fear begetting fear, we grow protective layers against forces threatening to impinge on our desired future.
Simple gets redefined as simplistic.
Kindness, generosity and openness feel inadequate against the adversities of life.
We assume complicated questions need complicated answers. Our nicety becomes naiveté, our hope becomes hapless.
Mr. Rogers gently reminds us of who we once were – and who we can be again. He represents what is still in each of us – the light and levity buried beneath the convoluted layers of our hidden heartaches, willing to believe again.
That still small voice we heard in childhood is still present in our adult lives, inviting us to listen – welcoming our child-like self into a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
To find the Fred in us.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LYNN JOHNSON COLLECTION: OHIO UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES.
“35mm B&W film negative; folder 01, proof 09, neg 17a; Family & friends picnic shoot. Portrait of Fred Rogers with big smile.”