Heroes: Jim Henson

This may seem like a curve ball to some of you, but Jim Henson is a major inspiration to me, and here’s why. Jim Henson is who I want to be when I grow up. A successful yet humble man that oozes optimism and serenity. I may have lost all the cynics out there from this point on, but that’s okay, to each their own. I’ve always been more of a lover than a fighter anyways. This idolization goes beyond permeating positivity though.

“I know that it’s easier to portray a world that’s filled with cynicism and anger, where problems are solved with violence. What’s a whole lot tougher is to offer alternatives, to present other ways conflicts can be resolved, and to show that you can have a positive impact on your world. To do that, you have to put yourself out on a limb, take chances, and run the risk of being called a do-gooder.” -J.H.

Henson was a man of steely determination, and he stuck to his ideas and ideals throughout his career. His beginnings were in local television in rural Maryland when he was still in high school. He wanted a job there so badly he went and asked for one, they ended up turning him down, but on his way out he noticed a wanted ad for a puppeteer. So he went to the library and read up on puppeteering, made a few crude puppets, came back and said “I’m a puppeteer now, will you hire me”? and they did. That was the miracle of Jim Henson, determined but never bossy, always at work on another project, but never in the doldrums about it.

“I don’t resent working long hours. I shouldn’t- I’m the one who set up my life this way. I love to work. It’s the thing that I get the most satisfaction out of and its probably what I do best. Not that I don’t enjoy days off. I love vacations and loafing around. But I think much of the world has the wrong idea of working. It’s one of the good things in life. The feeling of accomplishment is more real and satisfying than finishing a good meal- or looking at one’s accumulated wealth.” -J.H.

Above all else, the man just seemed thankful to be part of the experience of life. How do you think Kermit turned out to be the way he did? As you can see, a large part of Jim ended up in the portrayal of Kermit. Henson’s philosophy on life tended to bleed into the ways the characters “lived” in their own world, often reflecting this peaceful pacifism in the decidedly “British” humor of the numerous characters.

“I spend a few minutes in meditation and prayer each morning. I find that this really helps me to start the day with a good frame of reference. As part of my prayers, I thank whoever is helping me – I’m sure that somebody or something is – I express gratitude for all my blessings and try to forgive the people that I’m feeling negative toward. I try hard not to judge anyone, and I try to bless everyone who is part of my life, particularly anyone with whom I am having any problems.” -J.H.

Jim Henson’s approach to life means a lot to me because of its potency, and yet its simplicity. Often he had to fight to debate the legitimacy of his work and the meaningfulness behind it and as someone who has an urge to step into the world of creativity I can understand that debate with others, family, friends, the gatekeepers. The people that always ask why. In the end, just give them a why not? As we all know he eventually convinced enough of us that some stories just need to be told in felt. In the end Jim Henson fought for what he wanted to do, worked hard when he was able to, and never took any of it too seriously. That is why he’s one of my heroes.

“Life’s like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending.” -Jim Henson (1936-1990)

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