Not too long ago I transcribed for this blog a piece George Orwell wrote for Tribune, a British newspaper to which he was a regular contributor. Orwell had his own column in the paper which he called As I Please and the piece at issue was one that Tribune thought best captured Orwell’s character and outlook, so much so that it re-printed the piece as its official obituary for Orwell following his death, one that came all too early.
At the end of this piece, Orwell quoted the following passage from The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius:
In the morning when thou risest unwillingly, let this thought be present — I am rising to the work of a human being. Why then am I dissatisfied if I am going to do the things for which I exist and for which I was brought into the world? Or have I been made for this, to lie in the bed-clothes and keep myself warm? — But this is more pleasant — Dost thou exist then to take they pleasure, and not at all for action or exertion? Dost thou not see the little plants, the little birds, the ants, the spiders, the bees working together to put in order their several parts of the universe? And art thou unwilling to do the work of a human being, and dost thou not make haste to do that which is according to nature?
There is a modern equivalent to this passage, and it comes from everyone’s favorite “neighbor” and TV personality Fred Rogers, more commonly known as Mister Rogers. Among the many rituals Mister Rogers used to have on his television show was the one where he would sing a little tune while he changed his shoes and jacket as he came into and out of his television home. The songs signaled to the audience the beginning and the end of another episode of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, and always left the viewers with a sense of anticipation — to see what would be on today’s show, and when that show was over, the one after that.
The song Mister Rogers sang when it came time to leave and to say goodbye to his audience went something like this:
It’s such a good feeling to know you’re alive.
It’s such a happy feeling: You’re growing inside.
And when you wake up ready to say,
“I think I’ll make a snappy new day.”
It’s such a good feeling, a very good feeling,
The feeling you know that
I’ll be back,
When the day is new,
And I’ll have more ideas for you,
And you’ll have things you’ll want to talk about,
I will too.
I miss Mister Rogers, and George Orwell for that matter.