“Sometimes I wonder if I’m a mistake
I’m not like anyone else I know
When I’m asleep or even awake
Sometimes I get to dreaming that I’m just a fake
I’m not like anyone else”
I’ve been running myself a little ragged the last few months. This probably left me in a vulnerable place as it relates to watching the Mister Rogers documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.”
I’m a super fan when it comes to Mister Rogers. I recently visited his museum in Pittsburgh and sobbed the minute I saw parts of his living room set from the television show. As a young highly empathic kiddo that felt all the feelings, Mister Rogers was a Godsend. Everyday, I sat in front of the television and he told me it was okay to feel all my feelings and I believed him. He saved me in this way. He saved a lot of people in this way.
What struck me about the documentary was the connection they made between Mister Rogers and the puppet Daniel Striped Tiger. His wife reported that she believed that Mister Rogers identified and expressed himself the most through this puppet. For those of you who are not familiar with the works of Mister Rogers, Daniel Striped Tiger was the most vulnerable puppet and when he was on the screen we were tackling the big emotions. As a kid, I loved Daniel, I related with his fears and anxieties. I wanted to be seen as a complicated human and not rejected for my insecurities just like Daniel.
I watched the film with my husband who is also a sensitive feelings human (I think all humans are sensitive feelings humans but my husband is brave in his openness about his feels). As a child, I didn’t realize the permission Mister Rogers was giving to men to release the binds of toxic masculinity and feel their feels as whole humans. As I sat next to my husband, both of us crying, I felt so grateful for the permission he gave to the young boys to feel all their feelings. We need more of that. Way more.
As Bryan (my husband) said on the way home, I’m glad we were alive when Mister Rogers was here. In these times of desperation and separation and isolation, I really wish we had someone brave enough to take the reins and pull us back towards love and connection and to remind us that love is what really matters. Maybe that’s our job now?
I think most adults are scared of Mister Rogers because he represents the true needs and vulnerabilities we all share. We all need love and connection and we are all scared that we don’t deserve it because we aren’t good enough. No one is immune from this truth of the human condition and he said it out loud. He saved us in this way.
“But it’s you I like–
Every part of you,
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you’ll remember
Even when you’re feeling blue
That it’s you I like,
It’s you yourself,
It’s you, it’s you I like”