Benjamin Wagner’s Video Has Made Me “Forever Young”

I have been inspired to write about Benjamin Wagner and his passionate pursuits several times in the past. If you have not had a chance to read this post or the one that followed, please click on the links and take a minute to get a bit more background on Benjamin.

In my first post back in July of 2008, I explained how I found Benjamin online through a piece he had written about Fred Rogers who is better known by most people as ” Mister Rogers.”

What I didn’t say was that I actually introduced myself to Benjamin through an email more than a year earlier in May 2007 when I wrote to him and said among other things that I had an image in my mind of him performing one day in front of many children. For a rock and roll artist and MTV executive, this might have seemed alarming on two levels.

I was a little concerned that he might think, ” Who does this crazy woman think she is writing to tell me her vision of my future ” and I also imagined he might think that playing his songs for children was too far removed from the dreams of rock and roll stardom he may have imagined when he was writing for Rolling Stone Magazine online.

That he took the time to send me a gracious and thoughtful response impressed me and reaffirmed that sometimes people are exactly who they seem to be. We had an opportunity to meet in person later that same year when we happened to be in Las Vegas at the same time. He was there preparing for an MTV awards night and when I stopped by without warning, he took the time to come out and say hello in person even though he was just about to begin a big meeting with his team of folks. I was once again impressed by the way he was consistently warm and approachable.

It has been a fun ride to watch as he continued to make and release his own CD’s while moving even further up the ranks at MTV taking on bigger titles and more responsibility. Since I began to follow his words and music, Benjamin has married Abbi and they welcomed their first child a few months ago, a precious daughter they call Maggie.

During all this he also found time along with his brother Christofer, to complete their documentary, ” Mister Rogers and Me,” which has been viewed by audiences at several significant film festivals and is already winning awards.

The reason however for my post today and the explanation for the title above is that Benjamin Wagner has a new CD release aimed directly at the ears of a younger audience while still managing to hold the musical attention of his older fans as well. It was no surprise to me that a little more than three years after I had an intuitive flash of Benjamin with an audience of children gathered around him, he and his band mates played an early show for a group of little ones.

I am so pleased to be a part of his “Forever Young” video. Not long ago Benjamin sent out a call for childhood images from his virtual ” neighborhood ” so I emailed mine and forgot about it until yesterday when I saw the video première.

I was giddily surprised to see myself as the first child in his video showcasing the faces of those who will stay forever young.(at least on the video) You can’t miss me, along with being the first face you see, I’m the one wearing an early look of deep contemplation and a puffy blue dress.

Benjamin tells you why he decided to record his ” Forever Young ” CD in a post over at his place and you can read about it by clicking on this link.

You can purchase ” Forever Young “ one song at a time or all ten songs at once by going to iTunes which exactly what I’ll be doing in a minute. By Monday you will be able to buy it through Authentic Records and CDBaby if you prefer.

I’ve had a chance to hear all the songs and find Benjamin’s version of some of my favorites as enjoyable as the babes who are just beginning their journey will.

I lifted this information which so fits with who Benjamin is directly from his blog,

” Proceeds will be donated to The Fred Rogers Center and The Campaign For A Commercial-Free Childhood. Though neither is affiliated with the project in any way, we believe strongly in supporting their efforts towards advancing early learning and children’s media.”

Since he’s doing his bit to give of himself, I thought I would give a little too.

Today marks my first giveaway!

I will be giving away a copy of ” Forever Young ” to someone who leaves a comment below. If by some miracle I happen to at least get 100 comments, I’ll give away three copies.

My goal is two-fold … to share the work of this kind-hearted and multi-talented man and to help with his efforts to raise money that supports early learning for children and reinforces the deep and simple philosophy of Fred Rogers. You have until this Friday at 2:00 am Eastern Standard Time to comment and enter. Good Luck!

To hear more songs from ” Forever Young ” you can click here to listen to all ten tunes. If you want more chances to win and at the same time do a good thing with little effort, leave me a comment below and forward this post along to your friends and family.

Special thanks to Benjamin for helping this newly turned 50 year-old stay,

” Forever Young.”


Big CONGRATULATIONS to Cindy! Her number came up when I used to do the hard work for me. Cindy please contact me by email with an address, and I’ll have your copy sent to you directly from New York. Thanks to everyone who took time to comment. If you bought a ” Forever Young ” CD, I would love to hear your thoughts in followup. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

” 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.