When I was little my family lived next door to my grandparents, and oftentimes I would walk over after school to watch TV and have an afternoon snack. My Grammie and Papa would get me, my sister and my cousins all settled in with an eskimo pie or a neapolitan ice cream sandwich and turn on our favorite set of afternoon shows. Depending on the day, our schedule would include the likes of Wishbone, Captain Planet, Zoom!, and of course, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.
I remember feeling particularly drawn to Mr. Rogers. His show was different than the other ones we would watch. It wouldn’t make me laugh, or cry, or scare me, or excite me, it just made me feel calm. When I watched it, I felt safe. For no matter what kind of day I had, no matter how I was feeling or what I was worried about, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood never failed to be a reliable escape to something good.
Today, March 20th, is Fred Rogers’ birthday, and as a result, today has been dubbed “Won’t You Be My Neighbor Day.” In the past few years I, as well as many I’m sure, have found that the lessons Mr. Rogers taught me as a kid have only just begun to truly resonate now as an adult. I’d like to think this is what he hoped for. That he aimed to provide this escape to good when we were younger, so that when we were older it could act as a reminder that good can always be found.
In today’s society, I think we could use a little more Mr. Rogers, so today, in honor of what would have been his 88th birthday, I want to share some of my favorite quotes, from one of my favorite guys.
1) “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”
2) “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
3) “If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
4) “Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”
5) “The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.”
6) “How great it is when we come to know that times of disappointment can be followed by joy; that guilt over falling short of our ideals can be replaced by pride in doing all that we can; and that anger can be channeled into creative achievements… and into dreams that we can make come true.”
7) “Try your best to make goodness attractive. That’s one of the toughest assignments you’ll ever be given.”
8) “Often out of periods of losing come the greatest strivings toward a new winning streak.”
9) “We speak with more than our mouths. We listen with more than our ears.”
10) “Everyone longs to be loved. And the greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.”
Mr. Rogers, thank you for all of the afternoons you spent with me, my sister, my cousins and our eskimo pies. I can only hope I’m doing my part in spreading the good you instilled in me all those years ago. Happy birthday!