Fred McFeely Rogers, known as Mister Rogers to the civilized world, was a calming and assuring presence in my life when I was a child. Even today, I find his simple approach to life comforting and totally on target. Reading his books as an adult, I feel like he still values me as a person, that he is speaking directly to me and my struggles.
That is the power of the man, and his words.
Given my frustration with the dating and marriage scene, I found this advice of his most helpful, and wish to pass it on to those readers who could use it:
"Love" is a word to use with care. It means many different things and can be expressed in many different ways. But I think it means that a person can grow to his or her fullest potential only in mutually caring relationships with other human beings.
Mutually caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in others' achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain. We need to accept the fact that it is not in the power of any human being to provide all these things all the time. For any of us, mutually caring relationships will also always include some measure of unkindness and impatience, intolerance, pessimism, envy, self-doubt, and disappointment.
Love doesn't mean a state of perfect caring. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now - and to go on caring through joyful times and through times that may bring us pain.
May the new year bring us all joy, and the love that we need in our lives.