Those of us who grew up in the 80s didn’t have to sneak into our neighbors house. We were always welcome.
Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted 14 years before I did, yet I felt like this show was always made just for me. I have never been able to say what part I loved best. Was it the Trolley? Was it the whimsical piano playing in the background? Did I simply long for entertainment and this show and its cast of characters provide it? I can’t say if any one of those things would have compelled me to watch this show then or even now. And yet I watched constantly, consistently… even now I find myself captivated and tuning in. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered something hidden deep within this show centered around this sweater-wearing, shoe-tossing man a lesson on how we should live and formulate our daily lives, one that is being taught in books such as The Secret and by self-help, self-improvement, and motivational speakers and gurus, individuals like Abraham Hicks.
I think the shows lesson can be broken into three parts, each focused on a different aspect of our days in his and our neighborhoods and our world.
Begin The Day With Intention
Even if you don’t particularly care for the show you probably still know the lyrics to the opening. This is the part where Mr. Rogers would come bursting through the door. With a smile on his face he greeted his audience, changed his sweater and shoes while never missing a beat nor seeming out of breath.
“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, “
“would you be mine could you be mine…”
“Let’s make the most of this beautiful day”
Many speakers, books and publications are now highlighting the power of intention. Each one teaching the lesson of the power of awakening and beginning each day anew and with hope. We are learning to not drag our yesterdays into today but to start each day fresh. And here all those years ago Mr. Roger’s had already laid this lesson plan out before us. These words not only welcomed each one of us into his, but also into whatever may have come from that particular day’s adventures. He never dragged himself up the steps or complained of the difficulty in making it down the road. We were charged to make the most of this day, in this neighborhood, not because we didn’t know whether it would be our last, as if that is in some way inspiring. Rather, he wanted us to know that today, in the here and now, this new day was ours to do with, to live and experience, and we shouldn’t let anyone or anything take it from us.
Make it Up as You Go
There came a segment around the middle of every episode where Mr. Rogers would move to the window and press a button. Out came Trolley to take us into a special place… The Neighborhood of Make Believe. Funny now looking back the concept of a make-believe neighborhood existing within a made up, make believe neighborhood. But looking past that I can now see why this component was necessary. During these youthful days, it was easy to be unaware of real-world problems taking place. All neighborhoods, all individuals will encounter something new, unexpected or even problematic. Rather than making the immediate, often impulsive reaction to attempt to solve them in real time, Mr. Rogers was instructing us to take pause. Think. Give ourselves a moment to breath and find a more peaceful, compassionate, rational solution to whatever we encountered. We were allowed to believe that anything was possible. Every situation had a solution and it was up to us to create it. Doesn’t this sound similar to other teachings, whether it be as a man thinketh or that your focus creates your reality? This children’s show was showing us in the most basic way this lesson that still eludes some of us at times, including myself.
Day is Done
Similar to the show’s opening, the ending of the broadcast had a song as well.
“It’s such a good feeling to know you’re alive.”
Mr. Roger’s taught that at the end of the day we should give thanks. It wasn’t because everything had gone our way, but rather we were alive, that some progress was made toward growing physically and mentally, perhaps even spiritually although it was never spoken in those terms. Had the day gone smoothly? Maybe, maybe not. The point was you lived and experienced the sun setting on another day. Take the lessons learned and apply them.
He also made a proposal, a promise, an emphasis on the fact that he would return tomorrow (or on Fridays when the week was new), that there would be a new dawning. The sun would rise and there would be new adventures and opportunities to explore. Our questions and curiosities were valued and that even if nobody else is, he would always be there to discuss them with us.
Thank you, Mr. Rogers, to you I am grateful for teaching us all to make this neighborhood a better place.