How Mister Rogers Found Inspiration in the Everyday

Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood entertains children during a Mister Rogers' Day celebration. Several thousand children from the surrounding states attended the event held at the University of South Dakota.

If you’re looking for a mental palate cleanser, a prophylactic against chaos, a poem to creativity and potential, Jeanne Marie Laskas has exactly that in this beautiful piece about her friendship with Fred Rogers at the New York Times Magazine. She recalls his obsession with “the meager and the marginalized,” the universal human need to create, and his firm belief that what’s most essential about us as humans is invisible to the eye. Read this and feel better about yourself and the world.

When we were saying goodbye, I thanked him for all he had taught me.

“I think that it is very important to learn that you get that largely because of who you are,” he said. “I could be saying the same words and giving the same thoughts to somebody else who could be thinking something very different.”

I remember protesting. I was just trying to say thank you.

“It’s so very hard, receiving,” he said. “When you give something, you’re in much greater control. But when you receive something, you’re so vulnerable.

“I think the greatest gift you can ever give is an honest receiving of what a person has to offer.”

He was impossible to thank. I remember going home that day with goat poems swirling in my head.

That was the place where Fred and I connected, and it was also the place where he lived. This place of creating, of making stuff, and I know for him it was vital, a lifeline. He said he thought it was for me, too. In fact, he thought it was true for everybody. Fred believed that the creative process was a fundamental function at the core of every human being.

“I think that the need to create has to do with a gap,” he said. “A gap between what is and what might be. Or what you’d like to be. I think that the need to create is the need to bridge that gap. And I do believe it’s a universal need. Unless there is somebody out there who feels that what is, is also what might be.

“I don’t know anybody who has complete satisfaction with everything. Do you?”

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