Earlier today, I was looking up The Muppets on YouTube. This is for two reasons. One, I grew up with Kermit and the Muppets (I actually have a tattoo of Animal). Two, I needed a good laugh. I came across the oh so famous song by Kermit the Frog, Rainbow Connection. Before the song started, there was a quote by Jim Henson. I’d like to share the quote with you now. It read,
“When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope still is to leave this world a little bit better for my having been here. It’s a wonderful life and I love it.” -Jim Henson
When I was young, (me personally, Tom Whalen) I wanted to be a clown. I wanted to make people laugh and feel good about themselves. Nowadays I still like making people laugh, but I took a different career path. I know I have made a difference—hopefully—in the people who I know’s lives. But there are other people out there.
Jim Henson managed to gain notoriety through his work with puppets. These include Ernie, Rowlf the Dog, Swedish Chef, Gonzo, Animal, Beaker, Miss Piggy, and, naturally, Kermit the Frog. I can only hope to achieve that kind of recognition. Jim was known not only here in the United States but all across the world. I assure you, there is not a person alive today who hasn’t at least heard of Kermit and the Muppets. Go to Iraq and I guarantee you they know Kermit.
Me, on the other hand? Go to Pennsylvania or Delaware (only one state away from where I live) and nobody knows or gives a damn who I am. That could change but as of right now, I am “only” well-known in my home state of Maryland. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the fame and would love to expand on it to some degree, but world fame? Ha! “Good luck buddy!” I always said I feel a little bad for celebrities. In my words, “Celebrities can’t even take a leak without someone asking for an autograph or snapping a photo”. I know if someone asked me for an autograph while I was “taking care of business” here is what my answer would be: “Sure. Go get some snow.”
I love the attention I get as a self-advocate because it, in turn, helps raise awareness for Autism and helps out my industry and work. I work my butt off and give it my all every single time. As the late, great Jim Henson once famously said, “Someday we’ll find it, a Rainbow Connection. The lovers, the dreamers, and me.” That song United people at least for a few minutes and moved people. And, again to quote Mr. Henson, “It’s a wonderful life and I love it”. Amen, Jim.
So what mark do you want to leave on the world? I hope my impact is positive. I do not think anyone intentionally said, “I wanna leave this world as an asshole”. Everyone tries to make a difference. Few succeed and even fewer do it for the better. I hope I will be counted among the greats like Carrol Spinney and Jim Henson. (Carrol Spinney played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street for over 50 years). Even a grouchy puppet like Oscar made a positive impact to an extent. And Big Bird? I mean, I don’t think I have to explain why he was so impactful to generations of kids.
So what do you want your legacy to be? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!