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This place matters

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I'll be Back when the Day is New

It's no surprise that Fred Rogers is among my heroes. I think we all know I still live in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. But I do find it kind of surprising how ubiquitous my generation's love for him is. Yesterday, I couldn't open Facebook without reading another birthday tribute to the late PBS star. My generation was once defined by how jaded we were, how cynical. We're way too cool for syrupy sentiments like "you're special just the way you are."
And yet we'll spend half an afternoon watching and weeping over YouTube clips of his speaking with childish sagacity when there's a whole Internet full of pr0n and cat videos out there. 
And among the chest thumping and political opportunism that followed the shootings at Sandy Hook elementary, people my age posted, re-posted, read and re-read the words of Fred Rogers with tears in their eyes: 
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.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers--so many caring people in this world.
And you know, I think maybe the reason we love him so much is the same reason that we're so jaded. We love him because he's one of the few heroes we've had who never let us down. While politicians lied to our faces, kids' show hosts got arrested for jerking off in a movie theater, sports stars killed people, and wave after wave of our favorite entertainers drugged themselves into oblivion, one of our idols was exactly what he appeared to be.

But this post is meant to be more than just oddly ardent hero worship. This post is about one of those quotations a friend posted yesterday. An article in Esquire revealed that Fred Rogers swam every day, ate a healthy vegetarian diet, and maintained the same weight his entire adult life. He said that this was his way of saying "I love you" to himself.
I've been having the damnedest time keeping my plates spinning lately. Eating terribly, coming up with every excuse to avoid exercise, not writing, even though I know those things only make me feel more crappy and exhausted. So maybe instead of pushing and punishing and all of that, I'll try and look at getting my act together as a way to say 'I love you' to myself. And that's a horribly cheesy thing to think and even cheesier to say, but Mister Rogers said it, so that's okay.
Remember when I used to post pictures I took?

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