… from the bungalow

12 days that amaze, Day 9: It’s You I Like


This is the ninth of 12 “amazing” installments of “12 days that amaze.” I am pushing myself to write 12 posts about things that amaze me leading up to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser in Chicago that Karin, Deb and I are participating in. In doing so, I must also be open to the everyday amazing things that happen around me.

84 years ago today, a baby was born. This baby would grow to love music humanity. He would wear many hats, including teacher, minister, songwriter, author, television host, husband, father, grandfather, and children’s television advocate. He would also have a profound impact on my life.

Deb said something in a comment yesterday that stuck with me, and it seemed appropriate for this post:

It’s amazing to me how much joy can be traced to that moment.

I think about this sort of thing all the time, and I can never get my head around the infinite potentialities that are born with every chance encounter or historical event. Think of all the people who have influenced your life in some way. They’re innumerable. Think of all of the things they had to do to get to the place that overlapped your experience in space and time, and likewise, all of the things you had to do–involving all other players in your reality–to be in that space at that moment. It’s mind-boggling.

Those connections, which don’t always include physical meetings, are amazing to me. This isn’t a biography, and I don’t claim to know all of the early events that happened in that particular baby’s life that would eventually earn him the rank of “saint” in my mind. I simply want to show my gratitude for a man who played a role in my development as a child, and perhaps even more significantly as a parent so many years later:

Fred McFeely Rogers.

This is one of my favorite clips from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, a show that ran for three decades.

When I became a parent (without cable*), my love for Mister Rogers was rekindled and given a whole new meaning. Every episode I’d watch with my kids would inevitably make me tear up or full-on cry. His compassion, respect, and consideration for children has always blown me away.

I’ve worked with kids with special needs, and I’d like to think that I’ve always treated them with the same kind of personal regard that Mister Rogers did. When it comes to my own kids, that sort of thing becomes more difficult to maintain (to put it mildly). I still have a lot to learn from Mister Rogers. Let’s look at the lyrics to this particular song:

It’s you I like. It’s not the things you wear. It’s not the way you do your hair, but it’s you I like–the way you are right now, the way down deep inside you, not the things that hide you, not your toys (your fancy chair)–they’re just beside you.

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.

Profoundly simple, and simply profound. Pure, unconditional acceptance. In retrospect, Mister Rogers is probably one of the reasons I went into the field of music therapy, but that’s difficult to pinpoint. I can’t remember the first time I watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but as Deb said, “It’s amazing to me how much joy can be traced to that moment.”

Happy birthday, Mister Rogers. I’m glad you were born.

P.S. Let’s make the most of this beautiful day. Please, won’t you be my neighbor? Facebook | Twitter

P.P.S. I forgot to mention that Mister Rogers died in 2003 from stomach cancer. Stupid cancer.

*Even when we got cable, I chose to watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.


Author: Chris

Introspection to a fault. College administrator, parent, soapmaker.

6 thoughts on “12 days that amaze, Day 9: It’s You I Like

  1. So, I have goosebumps reading this. I only watched a very little Mr. Rogers growing up, of which I recall very little.

    But. BUT . . . just a couple of days ago, Ba.D. and I were driving, and he was telling me why he loved Mr. Rogers so. What he said showed me how much I could stand to learn from a man who I tend to remember only for his cardigan(s). Reading what you’ve written here makes me appreciate that all the more deeply.

    I’m sharing this post with him now, and I know that he’ll love it.

    Thank you for this beautiful added insight, and chance to rejoice those infinite moments of interwoven chance that brought us to the place where we can be sitting here exchanging comments on Mr. Rogers.

    • Again with the synchronicity. It sounds like Ba.D. and I would get along just fine!

      Fred Rogers was the kind of Christian I can appreciate; the kind who shakes hands with the Dalai Lama. He seemed to really “get it,” you know? The Gandhi of public television.

      And YES to what you said at the end!

  2. That was beautiful. Thanks. I always did love the lessons Mr. Rogers taught about acceptance, and I really like to think they had an impact on me, and helped me to open my mind to all sorts of people.

    And I agree. Stupid cancer. I hate cancer so bad, for all the people it has affected, and especially for the people it takes from us too soon.Stupid cancer, indeed.

  3. As always, wonderful post. Mr. Rogers was a one of a kind personality, I don’t think anybody will ever match him, unfortunately.

    I finally got around to writing another post (the one that would have been first, but glad it wasn’t) and was wondering if I could hit you up for an opinion, pretty please? (if you can’t, that’s ok) Not sure if this is what I should do, not sure if I should even ask you, but nothing ventured, nothing gained!


  4. I love this so very much. Chills on the train on a hot day. Thanks to you.

  5. Mr. Rogers was a BIG part of my childhood, even my later childhood and into my early adolescence. When I found myself feeling pulled apart inside as pre-teen/early teen in middle school, not many friends, just dealing with mental “stuff” I reverted back to watching Mr. Rogers on PBS because his land of makebelieve, his predictable schedule each episode, his simple and loving songs brought me peace. Weird to some, but for me at that time in my life, probably detrimental. “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…” Awesome post about an awesome man, hopefully commented on from another Christian you can also like (ummmm, that’d be…me). 🙂

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