Today, I feel a mixture of mad and tired, tired and mad. No contentment today, and not much comfort. Just mad and tired, tired and mad.
“What do you do with the mad that you feel? When you feel so mad you could fight? When the whole wide world seems oh so wrong, and nothing you do seems very right? What do you do?“
One of my current special interests is everything Fred Rogers related. He was a very wise, emotionally intelligent, and graceful person. I grew up watching him switch from shiny loafers to comfy sneakers as he explained the nature of things both complex and simple. As an autistic child, I found his kind words and consistent actions comforting in what was, to me, a very loud, painful world. As an autistic adult, I’ve been rewatching episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. It’s provided me with the same level of comfort in a world that seems to have become increasingly loud and more painful to endure.
On May 1, 1969, Fred Rogers testified before Congress for federal funding for PBS. In a mere six minutes, he softened the chairman of the subcommittee to accept his request, securing the $20 million needed to maintain public broadcasting. He did this by using phrases like “expression of care,” “feelings are mentionable and manageable,” and “I think it’s much more dramatic that two men could be working out their feelings of anger, much more dramatic than showing something of gunfight.” He did this by being himself: earnest, respectful, and gently in command.
I will not tie Fred Rogers’ goodness to “the good ol’ days,” for I believe this man was ahead of his time when it came to many of his personal values. I think Fred Rogers’ goodness was a choice he made every day as he got up early to read and swim. To carefully prepare the scripts for the Neighborhood. He was driven by a fierce determination to attune to the practical and emotional needs of children. Of adults, too, for I’m sure he knew there were many parents watching alongside their children.
On days like today, I sit in my adult skin and comfort the child within who feels lost and afraid. I recognize that madness and tiredness are part of a bigger wheel. And then, I let these words of Fred Rogers really sink in.
“I can stop when I want to, can stop when I wish, can stop stop stop. And what a good feeling to feel like this, and know that the feeling is really mine–know that there’s something deep inside that helps us become what we can.“