I was listening to an essay on our local public radio station and a man was describing his experience of meeting Mr. Rogers and what it was like to be in his presence for an interview. The simplicity of him and the very simple centeredness. He described the impact of that brief meeting and how he later, after Mr. Rogers died found himself trying to be an entertaining dad to his own kids and it occurred to him that Mr. Rogers was simply himself, just himself and that was the message that he conveyed to little kids: It really, really is OK to be yourself. “There’s no one like you” Mr. Rogers would tell people, “no one just like you” and “I’m glad you’re my friend.”
Mr. Rogers landed on that paradox we know so well from being addicts and addicted people. That thing the Big Book talks about: the egomaniac with an inferiority complex. And this message from Mr. Rogers is the perfect antidote to that complex problem/situation/personality dilemma: we want to be special but we feel like shit. Or we know we are nothing so we try to puff up and be a big big deal. “There is no one just like you,” he says and it’s all there: no need to puff up, you are special but so is everyone else. It’s like the statistical improbability of Lake Woebegone: Where all the children are above average. In a sense we are all above average despite what that does to the averages.
This writer on the radio said that he caught himself being a clown to his own kids and buying them things and trying to be a “great dad” when he could simply be “their Dad”
He said, in his closing --and this shot me through to my core: “I realized I could simply be a glass of water instead of a can of Coke.”
A glass of water rather than a can of Coke. I think I need to be shiny and red and branded and sugar sweet instead of cool and clear and simply the most thirst-quenching thing on earth. Is there anything truly more thirst quenching than a glass of water? Anything more relaxing to be around than a person who just is?
I like this question: Am I trying to be a can of Coke or glass of water?
A glass of water is enough.