Fred Rogers considered creating a divine act. He was inspired by everyday moments and believed that “the creative process was a fundamental function at the core of every human being” (Laskas).
According to a Laskas, confronting the blank page, blank canvas, and blank song sheets, was a vast possibility and bottomless terror for Fred Rogers.
“Why is it so scary?” he would say. “It’s so hard!”
He told me he would sometimes freeze before being able to jot down a word. He had a writing room, away from the office, away from home, where he showed up on writing days no matter what. Take it on. Enter it. Sometimes in Studio A [where they filmed Mister Rogers Neighborhood], he would show me how he worked out his doubts about himself and his emotions at the piano. Banging out anything angry or anything glad. He said it helped…” (2019).
“I think that the need to create has to do with a gap,” [Rogers] said. A gap between what is and what might be. Or what you’d like to be. I think that the need to create is the need to bridge that gap. And I do believe it’s a universal need. Unless there is somebody out there who feels what is, is also what might be. I don’t know anybody who has complete satisfaction with anything. Do you? …I think that how we were first loved-or not-has a great deal to do with what we create and how” (Laskas 2019).
Fred Rogers could see that the need to create also flows out of our being loved at the beginning. In a commencement speech at Carnegie Mellon University,
Fred Rogers stated,
“There are those who have been deprived of human confidence. Those who have not been able to develop the conviction that they have anything of value within. This gap is rather a chasm. And they most often despair of creating any bridges to the land of what might be. They are not accepted as little children…They were never truly loved by any important human other…And so it seems to me that the most essential element in the development of any creation [book, lesson plan, etc.], any art or science, must be love. A love that begins with the simple expressions of care for little child [or the child within]…when people help us to feel good about who we are, they are really helping us to love the meaning of what we create” (2001).
It brings me deep comfort to know that Fred Rogers struggled with creating. As we create, we empty ourselves, open our hearts, and choose vulnerability. He would be so proud of us!