March 20th is the late Fred Rogers’ birthday and we’re all supposed to wear a sweater. I will wear a green button-down number in honor of this gentle genius that set the bar for unfettered humanness. And I will be humbled.
This symbol is a warm reminder that a man lived to dedicated his life, through the medium of television, to making children feel safe and loved. His books, written for those same children, now grown, opened the understanding of love to a generation of adults.
But that sweater. Once worn, he was fully present. It was the signal that everything in the world was OK. You knew that his quiet understanding and acceptance was right there in front of you, wrapped in the embodiment of love, zipped to his collar.
His example was always one of Good. No anger, no pretense, and particularly no judgment. You were good because you were you. There was not a standard or an expectation. “It’s you I like, it’s not the clothes you wear, it’s not the way you do your hair…” He taught us unconditional love. Is there such a place that we learn this anymore?
I am unable to wear my sweater, upholding the spirit of this man, without the accompanying behavior. If I put on my sweater the morning of March 20th, than I must do the things, and perform the functions, that follow the example he set; it’s not enough just to look like him. So I am prepared, as all of you should be, to carry out his mission, to further the legacy of this genuine human being.
Today, I will be more accepting. I will see you, through the haze of activity, as important and meaningful. It’s good that you’re here with me.
I will refrain from passing judgment. I will see you as you are, without the question of your motives or your meaning. Today, if we pass by one another, I will see you just as you, another soul sharing the world.
I will listen. When you speak, I will look directly into your eyes, without saying a word. There is no need for dialogue today. You will be heard, and my ears will be opened.
Throughout the day I will speak softly. I will choose what I say carefully and commit to making my speech more deliberate. I will not use volume to make myself heard.
And today, I will smile. No upset will cross my countenance. My focus is on this mission: to honor his symbol of love by being kind, no matter the context or circumstance.
Lastly, I will strive to be myself. I will move through the day without hiding behind a façade. My fear and anxiety will not define me. It is a day to be courageous in who we truly are, honoring the fearless nature of his being.
So, wear your sweater. Remember Fred Rogers. But when you put your arms through those sleeves, and just before you button the last button or zip up that zipper, remember in everything you do today, to be like him. On this day, become Fred Rogers. That is the greatest testament to his legacy.
Copyright Ed McShane - Happy Scribbles, Inc.