Vacation musings

Mister Rogers And The Dark Abyss Of The Adult Soul

You could say I identified with Lloyd because he’s a journalist, but I think I mostly identified with him because he’s an adult human in a society where we’re told, from a young age, that the best way to fix something is to work harder. We swallow existential questions, and the despair or wonder that blooms from them, and work. Fear of losing a job, fear of losing a parent, fear of being a bad parent — instead of sitting with those feelings, again, we work. Because work means money, and money brings a modicum of stability, and relief, however temporary, from that same fear. Work doesn’t actually give us peace or solve our problems. But for a lot of us, it’s what we’re good at and what we know, which is far more comforting than staring at the abyss of what we don’t.

In a different sort of movie, the audience would be privy to Lloyd’s thoughts via a tear-jerking, sepia-toned flashback. Instead, the camera sits with Rogers and Lloyd for that full minute. In movie time, it feels like an eternity. Which is part of the point: We’re so unaccustomed to taking one full minute of time to be with ourselves, for ourselves only.

If you think of him as a saint,” she says, “his way of being is unattainable.” But it is nonetheless a practice: a decision, made every day, to care deeply about others, but also to refuse to insulate himself from the emotions that care requires.

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