” Mister Rogers & Me ” – Nantucket Film Festival

Mister Rogers & Me (photo courtesy of Benjamin Wagner)

Many of you may remember previously when I’ve talked about Benjamin Wagner. He’s been working for some time now on a remarkable looking film titled, Mister Rogers & Me. It is a deep and simple documentary about Fred Rogers told from the perspective of Benjamin, with the help of quite a few others who knew him as well. In the trailer alone, you see folks like Linda Ellerbee and Tim Russert along with Susan Stamberg and Marc Brown sharing their thoughts on the impact Fred Rogers had on the millions of people who either watched on him on television or those like Benjamin, who had a chance to actually sit down and talk with him before he died.

I’ve written about Benjamin and his story before, and how a conversation he had with a man who really was his neighbor put him on the path towards a life that celebrates the deep and simple in a world that is too often focused on what is shallow and complex.

Benjamin’s desire to share the message of Fred Rogers and the combined efforts of both he and his brother Christofer, have led them to the place where they are now as ” Mister Rogers & Me ” is set to premiere at the Nantucket Film Festival in June along with the films of some already well known actors and directors.

I have watched the progression of this dream of his from the sidelines for the last few years and the story has had a lasting impact on me. Sometimes, I catch myself having conversations with strangers, like a cab driver on the way to the airport about living a life more focused on what is deep and simple. I can’t tell you the number of times it has come up or the places I shared it.

In the quote below, Fred Rogers talked about leaving something of yourself behind in every meeting we have with the people we meet. Sharing ” Mister Rogers & Me “ along with the deep and simple message is what I’m leaving behind today. While I can’t attend the premiere due to living in the UK, I can share the message, and you can too. If you feel inclined, would you forward this link or perhaps create a post of your own to share with the folks who matter in your life. It’s a sweet story with a powerful message and it might be just the very thing they need today.

If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.

~ Fred Rogers

I want to thank Benjamin for staying with this project and investing so much of himself into such a lasting legacy. Fred Rogers would be modest about being the center of the story, but he would be so proud of you and he would likely say it in his gentle voice, ” I am so proud of you, Benjamin.”

I like to add my own ” Well done, Benjamin,” and say that in this big global world, I’m so glad you and I are neighbors.

I’ll Say It Again – Deep And Simple

Fred Rogers & Benjamin Wagner (Photo Courtesy Of Benjamin Wagner)

Fred Rogers & Benjamin Wagner (Photo Courtesy Of Benjamin Wagner)

About a year ago I posted Deep And Simple on my first Gifts Of The Journey website. A few things have changed since then, one being that I can no longer find the direct link to the essay published in the original “2DO Before I Die” book, but you can read about how he met Mister Rogers by going to Benjamin Wagner’s blog. After funding the making of this documentary out of their own pockets with an investment of $30,000 dollars so far, Benjamin and his brother Chris Wagner need a little help to finish this worthy project and get it out to a wider audience. I know everyone is hanging on to their money a good bit tighter in this economy, but if you’ll read his story I think you may decide this film has a message we can all benefit from…especially now. Please consider making a donation to get this film completed.

If you’re a blogger reading this, you might include the ” Please Help Mister Rogers & Me “ link or forward this post on to friends to increase awareness. Thanks for taking time to read this and I’ll leave you with a Mister Rogers quote from, ” The World According to Mister Rogers ”

” I hope you’re proud of yourself for all the times you’ve said ” yes,” when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to someone else.”

Deep And Simple – July 26, 2008

In bookstores everywhere it only takes about half a minute to glance around and see book titles referencing lists of things to do or see before you die. These types of books have been around for quite some time, but a few of us actually had a list long before Oprah and every one else began promoting them. My list dates back to my college days and at 47, I’m only about a third of the way through it. While I’ve crossed off and enjoyed a goodly few of the important ones, at the pace I’m going I may be the oldest person Running with the Bulls in Pamplona in 2041. Maybe number fifty should be something like walking to the mailbox unassisted instead of dodging livestock when I’m old and wrinkly.

Lists can be important though and while I won’t share the complete contents of mine, I’m glad I had an opportunity to read about just one of the things that Benjamin Wagner accomplished on his list. It has made a tremendous difference in my life and I hope you’ll be as positively affected as I was when I read about it a couple of years ago. Reading about Benjamin’s meeting with Mr. Rogers, the gentle creator of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood made me cry then and it still does each time I read it. It’s sweet in the telling, because Benjamin Wagner knows how to reach into your heart and pull out an emotional memory you thought you’d locked away for safekeeping. Deeply feeling, he is able to convey his own fears and vulnerability in a way that makes it feel safe to share your own. Benjamin is an unusual mix of singer songwriter, MTV Executive, and documentary filmmaker. And while I love his newest CD release, it is his work on the documentary, “ Mr Rogers & Me “ that I want you to know about today.

Take a minute to read ‘Meet Mr. Rogers’ and then see if you can shake the message from your thoughts. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself talking with perfect strangers about it and hearing the words, deep and simple cross your lips over and over until it sounds as natural as telling someone your own name.

Benjamin Wagner and his brother Chris have been working on “Mr. Rogers & Me” on their own time and with their own money for the last four years. Both of them lead mega busy lives already without all that goes into creating this film. Take a look at this site and see some of the people they’ve interviewed for it like this great woman and this good man and then start spreading the word. I believe so strongly in this message, that the best things in our lives really are the ones that are deep and simple. And if I may quote Benjamin Wagner regarding the goal of the documentary, “ to afford the viewer the opportunity to reflect not just on a great man, but also on the values he espoused and embodied every day: compassion, kindness, and reflection.”

Just remember there are five words to put you right when life becomes too shallow and complex.

Five words to bring you back to your best self… compassion, kindness, reflection, and say them with me now….deep and simple.