Where do you go to seek comfort in times of tragedy or uncertainty? Some spend time with a friend, others seek guidance through their faith, I…turn to the wisdom of Fred Rogers. Yes, you read that right, THE Fred Rogers of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” I not only find his words soothing and nostalgic, I find him to be an excellent spiritual leader as well. An ordained Presbyterian minister, he never pushed a particular doctrine or dogma, his words taught love and acceptance. Two things that seem to be lacking in today’s society.
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of disaster I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers…so many caring people in the world.
With the latest tragic events in Las Vegas, it is easy to get caught up in the media’s frenzy to dissect the mind of the shooter. Although trying to understand the “why” in this senseless act will hopefully help in our future attempts to end gun violence, there is no comfort there. Look for those smaller, less talked about stories of heroism and courage from ordinary people just like you and I. Through these stories, you will regain your faith in humanity, not through the analyzation of the mind of a mad man.
We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.
Step outside of your world and see what is happening around you. We have information thrown at us all day, every day, 24/7. It is easy to say, “Wow that’s terrible. Oh well.” What if when we saw despair, tragedy, and human atrocities, we reacted with passionate fervor? What if instead of, “Someone should do something,” we said, “What can I do?”
Some days, doing “the best we can” may still fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn’t perfect-on any front-and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else.
In today’s society, we put so much pressure on ourselves to strive for “success.” We push our kids to be the “best” in grades, sports, and extra-curricular activities. We stress ourselves and our children to the point of frustration and sometimes even to anger and depression. Is that a life? Successes to brag on? Or is life something more than that… Yes we should put our best foot forward, but that will change depending on our health (both physical and mental), our overall circumstances, and our individual strengths. Today for example, I do not feel very well, I am fatigued and drained. Tomorrow, I may feel better and have greater energy. Tomorrow I will most likely accomplish much more, however, I still did my best on both days. Be gentle with yourself. Life is about experiences and the sharing of them, not a checklist of look-at-me’s.
When we can talk about our feelings they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.
We all want to seem strong don’t we? We think that if we SEEM to have life by the horns others will believe it. Here’s a little secret…it is extremely brave to be open and honest about your feelings, your fears, your shortcomings, your vulnerabilities. In a world full of empty happiness and falsified lives, be authentic. Let others know that it is ok to not be ok.
Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.
Relationships are difficult. Marriage is not easy. Life is not a fairy tale and there are not always happy endings, but we wake up every day and choose to love. It doesn’t fall upon us like snowflakes, it is an energy that we produce from our souls.
If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.
You are worth so much more than you realize. You make an impact on this world that you may never see, but others may never forget. From a simple smile in a grocery store to supporting a friend during a difficult time, you are loved and you are a beautiful part of life’s tapestry.
However you find comfort, whatever brings you peace, I urge you to seek it out during these difficult times and anytime you may be struggling. Much love to you all…
(All quotes are by Fred Rogers)