Everything I Need to Know, I Learned From Jim Henson

Today is a very special day. Mr. Jim Henson, if we were lucky enough to still have him, would have been 76  years old. Who doesn’t love Jim Henson? Whose life was not touched in some way by one of his many creations? He enhanced everything – our childhoods, our adult lives and our world. In a true example of the people we loved never truly leaving us, there are lessons we are reminded of – or should be reminded of – that Mr. Henson creatively, beautifully left behind in every day of his after life, every where we look. Thank you, Mr. Henson.

EINTKILF Jim Henson & Co.

(Remember the Muppet Babies?)

1. Use your imagination.
Besides the fact that the Muppet Babies are constantly using their imaginations, as Mr. Henson always was, there is a very specific book called Meet the Muppet Babies that I remember reading over and over and over as a child (also, an episode entitled “Noisy Neighbors”) that revolved around a cardboard box. That cardboard box, in the book, becomes a cave, a space station, a piano and a castle. Now, we all know that kids (and cats and dogs) love boxes more than they love the product inside the boxes. But what about us? What about the adults of the world? What kind of cardboard box are we handed?

Don’t you see? Everything is a cardboard box.

The world is not your oyster, kiddos. The world is your cardboard box. Make something of it.

2. You are special.
All of the Muppet Babies sing about how not everyone is good at everything, but everyone should chase their passions. Ralphie is like, “I can’t tell jokes, but check out what a King I am on the piano! Who wants to be or blue or green, when you have vocal cords like I do?!”

That is me in a pumpkin seed shell. Who needs a fancy job or a cute boyfriend (or a boyfriend at all?) when I have thick hair, a killer sense of humor and college debt? Wait, maybe I missed the point to this song?

3. Weirdos win.
Gonzo’s “species” is apparently a “weird,” which is really weird, but also really great because he teaches children–and everyone–that being weird is alright. Am I right? To be honest, everyone is weird in their own unique way. I mean, even the “normal” people are weird because no one is “normal,” am I right? The more “normal” you are, the “weirder” the world will believe you to be because we have, finally, embraced the “weirdos” of the land. Get weird, ya’ll.

Scooter: This is really weird.
Gonzo: Yeah, isn’t it great?

It is really great. It sure is.

(Remember The Muppet Show? Duh.)

4. It is not easy being green.
Humans are not green (usually) but the moral of this story is to love who you are. And isn’t that a great thing to believe? In yourself? If you do not love yourself, then no one else can love you, not really. I want everyone to put on this song and understand where Kermit is coming from right now. Give yourself a little hug, a kiss on the hand, a pat on the back. You are great, and someone out there is waiting to love you. You just gotta do it first.

You do not have to be stars in the sky to be wonderful. You already are.

5. Believe in the unbelievable.
I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it, there’s something that I’m supposed to be. Someday we’ll find it: the Rainbow Connection. The lovers, the dreamers and me. 

Shooting stars, 11:11, wishing on a well. What is your outlet, and do you really believe it? I struggle with this, all of the time, but that rainbow connection keeps me going. Especially when Jason Mraz sings it, because I mean, duh.

Keep believing. That’s the thing.

6. A little snark goes a long way.
Everyone’s favorite disagreeable old men, besides maybe Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon (love them!), heckle everyone all day long, but everyone knows they likely have little muppet hearts of gold somewhere beating in their chests. The point is: comic reliefs are the best, (not that The Muppet Show needs a whole lot of “relief”) and these two old pals’ banter is something to strive for in your own personal relationships. Banter is key, humor is life.

(Remember Fraggle Rock?)

7. Dance your cares away.
The theme song from Fraggle Rock has the most inspiring lyrics of any song ever besides the lyrics to the Growing Pains theme song, but I will save that for another EINTKILF. (That’s right–Growing Pains is coming, kiddos!)

Dance your cares away, worry’s for another day. Let the music play, down at Fraggle Rock.

Alright, well there is not much to the song, but man, let us all dance our cares away today. Forget everything you have to think about today. Call in sick (bad advice, I wouldn’t do it), miss your deadline (bad advice, I wouldn’t do it), leave your phone at home (yes, yes, this one I love!), dance your cares away!

Crank the Rihanna.

8. Keep on smilin’.
Red, Gobo and Wembley, in the episode “The Secret Society of Poohbahs,” sing a song called “Keep on Smilin’,” which is as happy as it sounds, and just as important.

Man, I can be so anti-corny sometimes, but smiling really does make you feel better. And I don’t mean fake smiling. That never helped anyone in the history of time. I mean, when you are upset, grab the friend that cracks you up, talk smack about people you don’t like, drink a large glass of red wine and smile. Genuinely. Work those face muscles, babe.

Or go through a car wash with a pint of ice-cream and two good pals. That’s what I did right after writing this, and I have never had that much fun in three minutes or less in my life. The bubbles smelled like Fruity Pebbles! I felt five years old again. Jim would be proud.

9. You’ve got to leave to stay.
Depression alert, coming at you.

There is an episode of sweet Fraggle Rock in which Wembley befriends a creature with a very short lifespan. When he passes on, Wembley is very sad naturally, and his friends have to teach him how to cope with death. I will not credit just Mr. Henson for the boldness in addressing death (especially to younger people), but I will claim that learning about death and dying through his imaginative characters not only eases the pain of losing a loved one, but makes it much more approachable for families. My family never lost anyone when I was young enough to need it related to me through Muppet nor Fraggle, but I appreciate the sentiment. Poor Wembley.

Anyway, then I watched Big Bird singing “It’s Not Easy Being Green” at Jim’s memorial service and I cried. Lots. So touching. Death should be acceptable, but it is never not sad.

10. Believe, pretend, create.
When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.”

Mr. Henson, we miss you. I thoroughly encourage you all to share with me and everyone else what you learned from any and all of his creations. Happy birthday, and rest in peace, sir.

(And believe that I have a Muppets Christmas Carol in the works when it is a little more seasonally appropriate. You guys should know me better than that by now!)

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