Today’s read by Heather Havrilesky made the rounds when it was published in May, as it deserved to do because it is beautiful. Yes, it’s a moving tribute to Mr. Rogers–but it’s also a clear-eyed look at the human condition, the “vast ocean of emotions” within all of us, the need to feel seen.
Why Did We Ever Leave Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood?
As a parent, sometimes I have to remind myself that even playing games or having fun together isn’t the same thing as offering up time for kids to be seen and heard clearly. Because when you’re a kid, even good friends mostly talk over you and rarely listen. Childhood is lonelier and more isolating than most of us are willing to remember or admit.
But then, most people would rather avoid talking about dark emotions like fear, anger, melancholy, and longing anyway—a problem Rogers’s show always tried to address. And most parents don’t love the idea that children experience a vast ocean of emotions beyond happiness, in part because many of us don’t like admitting that we all contain volatile seas of rage and despair. Rogers’s quiet air of acceptance and love makes us squeamish because it exposes our own conflicted, avoidant natures. His silence challenges us to accept our own emotional complexity in ways that the whirring, buzzing, flashing simulacrum of global culture specifically discourages.