The Lover, The Dreamer, and What He Means to Me

17 May

How do you express love for a person you don’t even know? A person you will never know, not really, and yet, a person you know so much about. Not only that, but a person who has effected, shaped, and touched your life in so many ways, and you know you are changed all because of this singular, extraordinary person. No person alive can be compared to them, not in a million years.

I am, of course, talking about Jim Henson.

Jim Henson passed away on May 16th, 1990. Forty-nine days before my birth. To have never truly inhabited the world at the same time as such an amazing person slays me.

I’ve spoken quite a lot in the past about how much the Muppets have effected me for the last sixteen months of my life, but I often neglect to go into detail about how much they effected me as a child. And they did. They really did. My family owned The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, and Muppet Christmas Carol, which my brother and I watched enthusiastically on a regular basis, and I remember seeing Treasure Island in theaters with my cousins. My brother and I would play Muppet Babies during play time, letting our imaginations run rampant (I was always Rowlf, while he assumed the role of either Kermit or Animal). Then there was Sesame Street, which basically taught me all the general information of the world that I know today. I rocked out to Elmo’s World daily, I sang along with Big Bird, I helped Big Bird track down Ernie, and I anxiously anticipated Slimey’s return from the moon.

The Muppets and Sesame characters were always in my life, meaning that Jim Henson has always been a part of my life as well. I don’t know when I ever became aware of who Jim Henson was. I knew his name at a young age, long before I could recognize his face. After all, his name was attached to all the films and shows of his that I so loved. I feel like I knew his face long before (I have a very vague memory of asking my mother who Jim was at a young age), but the first concrete memory I have of Jim is my freshman year of high school. I passed his face almost every day on a poster in Mr. Housley’s AP Gov classroom.

Okay, so it was really a poster for Apple. Even so.

I was fourteen when I was a freshman in high school. That was about seven and a half years ago. Only six years later would it suddenly occur to me how wonderful, hilarious, and life changing the Muppets could be and how desperately I needed them in my day to day life; only six years until it really struck me what exactly this man had accomplished in his life time.

It’s always difficult to express my grief of Jim’s passing to people who are not Muppet fans and to explain why this day brings me down so much. How am I supposed to describe why the death of a man, a complete stranger whom I will never meet, grieves me so? The thing is though, Jim was not just a man. He was an innovator, a mentor, an artist, a builder, a giver, a performer, a friend, a dreamer. He saw the uniqueness and goodness inside each and every person. He truly believed he could help make the world a better place, he never judged by creed or race, just by the kindness in one’s heart. No, I think it’s fair to say Jim Henson was no ordinary man, and I will strive time and time again to explain the part he’s taken in shaping my life as a human being. Because this man… well, the word ‘magical’ springs to mind.

While Jim and many of the other greats are gone (Jerry, Richard, Don, Kermit Love, etc.), the magic that they brought to life lives on, and the beautiful worlds Jim Henson fabricated out of felt and fur forever frequent in our fantasies and futures.

Thank you, Jim.

PS) I just realized that this is my 100th entry in my The Girl Who Loves Muppets wordpress. How oddly appropriate.

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