Grandma and Mr. Rogers

I was watching Mr. Rogers recently, and he seemed to be speaking directly to my situation. Has that ever happened to you in church—you feel like the sermon is directed right at you, and yet you realize that the pastor cannot know about your specific problem? You may conclude that God is speaking through the message to help you face your challenges.

Well, I’m not going to be that dogmatic, but Mr. Rogers was giving good advice. He was drawing a house with some scenery, and he said, “Let’s color the sky blue.” Then he said (and this is my paraphrase), “Notice that the sky did not become blue by my wishing or daydreaming or talking. I had to make it blue.”

I’ve been working on this paper, and I really do not enjoy writing it. I don’t know what the problem is. The topic is not terribly boring, as far as topics go. I’m just not in the mood to sit down and write a paper. In writing, I have to make sure that everything is phrased smoothly, that all my facts are correct, that I document every detail, and that I cover as many bases as possible. Plus, I have to plow through 103 pages of my notes. I’m just not motivated at the moment. But, as Mr. Rogers would say, we do not create something through wishing and dreaming; we have to work.

Mr. Rogers also said that creating something makes you feel good, whether or not others like your creation. On some level, this is true. I always have a feeling of pride and accomplishment whenever I finish a paper. But, I admit, I am twice as happy when others like my work or give me a good grade.

Something else that Mr. Rogers emphasized was the value of the process. He said that he is not good at drawing, but what is important is that he tries, enjoys himself, and creates something. I can see his point. I want an A on this paper, but I will have a sense of accomplishment after completing it, even if it is not the best paper in history.

Later that day, I was talking to my grandma on the phone. She does not watch Mr. Rogers, but she is reading a book. She was sharing with me some insights from her reading. She said, “This is your paper, and you are a unique person. Just do things your own way and write what you think is important. You don’t have to please everyone else.” She was giving me similar advice to what Mr. Rogers was saying. Could this be a sign?

I’m not dismissing the importance of turning in quality work. But I am going to take my time and enjoy the process. That is better than burdening myself with the pressure to be perfect.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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