Friday, November 4, 2011

The Color of Life

When Sesame Street songwriters Joe Raposo and Jon Stone sat down to pen a "song for the frog," they could not have foreseen the impact it would have on the character or the surrounding culture.  Because it was made for an educational program, the main intention of "Bein' Green" was to teach children about the color, and to provide examples of green objects.  Instead, it taught us about the importance of self-worth and dignity.

As a child, this song confused me.  Green was one of my favorite colors!  A lot of people liked the color green!  What is he even talking about?

But the color green isn't the issue here.  It is about whatever color you happen to be, whatever lifestyle you happen to follow, whatever belief you happen to hold.  The song could easily have been called "It's Not Easy Bein' Me," because, at some point in their lives, everyone can agree with that sentiment.  For those who are routinely discriminated against, the difficulties of life are a lot more present.  It can make anyone feel worthless and wish, above all else, that they could just be someone different.

As Kermit progresses through his melancholy ode, he stumbles across a turning point in his perspective.  After listing all the reasons of why he wishes he weren't green, there is nothing left to say except why being green is a positive thing.  It's as though he just needed to purge all of the negativity from his mind so that he can focus on why he prefers being the way he is.

Being green does not define Kermit.  He can be big and important and tall if he so chooses to be.  Those who dislike him for being the way he is do not matter.  He is proud of who he is, because that's all there is to be.  He can bemoan his characteristics as long as he lives, but he can't change them.  Some people wonder if there may be some great purpose to the way life is that explains how we got to be this way.

But why wonder?

You are who you are.  Once you accept that, you can continue living your life.  You will find that being yourself is beautiful.  And it's exactly what you want to be.

*   *   *

This song will be forever linked to Kermit and Jim Henson.

At Henson's memorial service, many classic songs were sung in tribute to him, but the most poignant came from Big Bird.  He is a perpetual child whose differences make him visually bizarre, yet he is not restricted by his appearance.  But despite his optimism, this song speaks to him as well.  It is magical, yet mournful.  The wisdom contained in those lyrics match Henson's personal philosophy perfectly.  As far as we know, we only have one life.

Make the most of it.

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