Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing the movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a movie that celebrates Fred Rogers, hailed by many as a hero of his time. Rogers, an iconic television personality known for his show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, showed up in thousands of homes between 1968 and 2001. He has lovingly been referred to as “America’s favorite neighbor,” who used his talents to educate children and adults on difficult subjects such as death, divorce, violence and more.
This movie, celebrating this most honorable man, brought to mind many facets of the life experience, giving pause for reflection. In one poignant scene, Rogers says to journalist Tom Junod, played by Matthew Rhys, “Would you just take, along with me, one minute to think of all the people who have loved you into being? One minute; I’ll watch the time.” During this scene, filmed in complete silence, Rogers’ character, played by Tom Hanks, stares directly into the camera at the listening audience. Though no sound emerged from the movie screen, every thought expressed in that one minute was loudly heard.
At the conclusion of the movie, I thought back to those extraordinarily loud thoughts in that powerful scene and pondered this exercise within my own life. Regardless of life experience, none of us go it alone; we are all “loved into being” by someone, or many someones, without whom we would be lost, alone and wanting.
- Because of a mother and father who join together, the life we call our own comes into being.
- Because of a sibling, we are challenged and put in our place, given opportunities to explore things with another person sharing in our life experience.
- Because of a teacher, our lives are enriched through enlightenment, education and encouragement to become… whatever we can dream.
- Because of an aunt and uncle, we can see the world from perspectives different from our own, yet connected as family.
- Because of a cousin, we have a built-in playmate who acts as our sidekick, our confidante, our compadre, our partner in crime, one with whom we may interact as siblings and grow as kin.
- Because of a friend, we learn the importance of making connections, sharing the best and worst of ourselves and understanding what it means to bond with someone not linked by blood.
- Because of a spouse, we discover things about ourselves we might never otherwise learn and find out what it means to compromise for the good of a union.
- Because of a daughter or son, our lives are richly blessed, and we realize what true love is all about, what it means to sacrifice and how to create a legacy that outlives us.
- Because of a grandchild, the cycle of life begins anew and all that has come before is sewn into another generation to “love into being.”
And, because of a neighbor, we know what it means to create a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
This idea of being “loved into being” is best summed up in Rogers’ own words when, in 1997, he accepted his Lifetime Achievement Award: “Whomever you’ve been thinking about, how pleased they must be to know the difference you feel they have made.”
So, how will you be spending your next minute?