On Monday, the trailer for the film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood came out, starring Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers. And then my head and heart exploded. I watched Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood all the time as little kid (you could say I was obsessed), and I’ve loved Tom Hanks since Bosom Buddies (yes, obsessed again).
I got emotional watching the trailer (I’ll never make it through the movie), and here’s why. Every day this man wanted me to be his neighbor. (Me? Really?) He exuded the importance of kindness and self-worth. On top of that, a train trolley went from a tunnel in his house to The Neighborhood of Make-Believe (pure magic to me).
In that land, King Friday the XIII ruled. I was born on the thirteenth and was aware of the superstition, but this king was awesome and therefore defied that irrational fear. Then there was Daniel the Tiger, a puppet who’s described on The Neighborhood Archive site as "very soft-spoken, easily frightened, and quite a worrywart." In other words, me at age five. Daniel and I were both very shy and super sensitive. It helped to see myself in him in this magic land, and I adored him.
I tended to have scary dreams when I was little, and one night, I decided to think about nothing but Daniel the Tiger in bed before I fell asleep. In the morning I was thrilled that I had dreamt Daniel and I were pals hanging out in the magic neighborhood.
The same day the trailer came out, I ended up on a steamy hot subway stuck for twenty-five minutes in a tunnel. I was standing carrying heavy bags, hungry and tired, crammed in tight with a bunch of sweaty strangers. To my surprise, no one in the car got angry or freaked out. I kept catching the eye of one woman, and we’d smile at each other. Another guy in a suit carrying a hot pizza box smiled, shook his head wistfully, and said to me, “What are you gonna do?” Even at the next stop when no one got off but two women crammed on, no one turned on them (amazing for NYC), and I found myself apologizing to them that I had nowhere to move.
When I was five, I figured out how to work with my subconscious and make a dream happen. I knew how to be the train trolley and bring magic to my reality to escape my fears. On Monday, another train took me to a magic land of kindness and patience.
Every week I write about the magic that’s all around us. And I thank Mr. Rogers for planting that seed. We’re all neighbors, thirteen is a great number, and love is our reality, not fear.
It’s all about the magic. 🙌