The 15th day of the Hebrew month of Av, also known as Tu B’Av, is the Jewish holiday of love.
As part of these Days of Awe, last week Oak Park Temple showed a movie online for the congregation – A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks as the inimitable Mr. Rogers. The film is not so much about Fred Rogers as it is about his relationship with a journalist assigned to profile the children’s TV personality for Esquire magazine.
Two of my main takeaways from this movie are both commentary regarding conscious aging.
This movie is a terrific example of the quote, “holding a grudge is like eating poison and expecting the other person to die.” Forgiveness is an important part of aging consciously, of aging with intention. Forgiveness is for the person doing the forgiving, nobody else. Mr. Rogers helped the journalist understand this and then change, based on that awareness. This movie helped me see just a bit more clearly my arrogance in holding a grudge, the negative effects that it has on me and how I have better things to do with the time I have left in this physical life.
The other point has to do with appearances, which I’ve written about here before. When I was young and Mr. Rogers was airing on TV, everybody knew the show. This movie jogged my memory that I always thought Mr. Rogers was weird and that he was a wimp. That’s how he appeared to me. Changing into a cardigan and playing with puppets. No adult I knew did that and that was not the ‘grown up’ I aspired to be. Little did I know. And that makes me think of how ‘old people’ appear in our culture – wrinkled, frail, wimps, weird. Now, when I see that older person with a walker, I can picture their multiple versions over the years. And, borrowing shamelessly from Dr. King, hopefully I can judge them not by the wrinkles of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Thank you, Mr. Rogers.