Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

So, I’m tense these days.

I look up from reading the San Francisco Chronicle, my spoon dripping the morning milk, and wonder: why do my shoulders hurt? Lately, my forehead crinkles in the morning as I wonder: why am I already anxious to be done with today? These are the kinds of days when it seems like all the wonder has been sucked out of the world, and only the husk of the to-be-accomplished remains.

These are days when I need Mister Fred McFeely Rogers. I need his zip-up sweaters, his intrepid singing voice, and his graying, side-parted hair. I need his model trains, his pal King Friday, and, most of all, his curiosity. I long for that endless curiosity, which could breathe life and wonder into the monotony and routine of our everyday world.

So on days like these, I say thanks for John D. Boswell and PBS digital studios for bringing Mr. Rogers into the remix age (and for planning to do so for other icons as well in a series called “Icons Remixed”). Have a look:

I also say thanks for Tom Beaudoin, who wrote a great blog post on the remix over at the America Magazine blog. Tom wrote that, for him, the video:

[G]ives a good taste of the show, and more deeply, of the revelatory power of falling in love with the world that Rogers advocated. The song also provides a taste of the gentle psychedelia, a bidding strange and welcome, present in the show. This uncanny element – a way of entering into the depth of things ruminatively – occurs throughout the song: “scary things,” “cat’s eyes,” the mysterious delivery of whistles and Rogers’ brief rococo solo, and the recurring reference to “the garden of your mind.”

I concur wholeheartedly. Especially on those mornings when my shoulders are tight for want of the “revelatory power of falling in love with the world.” Especially when the dry husk of the “to-do list” and the gray clouds of the morning headlines loom ominously. And yet even these can be seeds of something new that my neighbors can help me sow; something hopeful that can begin to grow in the garden of my mind.

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