‘It’s life. It’s interesting. It’s fun.’

This past Christmas I received a Christmas gift from my eldest son (my youngest lad sends me gifts from above) that is one of my most favorite ever.

He elected a nostalgia theme for Denise and me and filled a basket with things that took us back in our lives. That alone is worth cherishing — the thought he put into it.

No item in either basket was expensive, but all were priceless — for me, one in particular: a daily calendar with the artwork of the beloved and dearly missed PBS artist Bob Ross.

For those of you who know Ross, you know what a gentle, witty, perceptive and genuine artist and human being he was.

For those who don’t know him, just think of a combination of Jesus Christ, Mr. Rogers, and Abraham Lincoln. How can go wrong with that mix?

Ross’ father was a carpenter and as a young boy he would help out his dad. Sound familiar? And he retired as a Master Sergeant from the U.S. Air Force after 20 years.

Ross’ TV painting show, “The Joy of Painting,” had a cult following from 1983 to 1994 on PBS. The man with a coif like a used Brillo pad could put together a nature scene in oils in one-half hour, all while teaching the viewers that they, too, could produce such masterpieces — and all while in a Mr. Rogers’ like demeanor, providing words of wit, encouragement, joy and hope.

As is too often the case, such good people seem to be taken away far to soon. Ross died at the young age of 52. But his legacy didn’t. Today, Ross is still as popular with Generation Xers, Xennials, Millennials and Generation Yers as he was with us Baby Boomers. His classic shows can be streamed online or found on certain cable TV channels.

All we see today on social and conventional media are wars of words between Democrats and Republicans, neither of whom have any respect for anyone who doesn’t believe as they do — and that begins in D.C. and trickles down into homes all across America. Hate, intolerance, and venom are commonplace in homes across this “land of the free.”

Bob Ross is an oasis in this churning sea of disgusting behavior. Watch him for one-half hour and you can feel your blood pressure drop, your anxiety level dip, and your inner peace swell. I am not kidding.

The scenes that magically appear on his canvases touch the soul, please the eye and sooth the heart — again, all while listening to a Mr. Rogers for adults with the vision of Jesus and the wit of good old Abe.

Tidbits like, “We want happy paintings. Happy paintings. If you want sad things, watch the news,” and “That’s a crooked tree. We’ll send him to Washington.”

Other pearls include, “Gotta give him a friend. Like I always say, ‘Everyone needs a friend,’”  “Don’t forget to tell these special people in your life just how special they are to you,” and “You can have anything you want in the world — once you help everyone around you get what they want.”

His wisdom astounds me with gems like, “You need dark in order to show the light,” “In nature, dead trees are just as normal as live trees,” “Be so very light. Be a gentle whisper,” and “Use absolutely no pressure. Just like an angel’s wing.”

I’m quite certain he often wasn’t just referring to his paintings.

In a society where true role models are rare, the reruns of a TV show from a humble artist with a heart of gold can be quite the elixir.

If, instead of hating those who don’t agree with us, we could live the wit and wisdom of Bob Ross daily, the world would be a better place: “We don’t really know where this goes — and I’m not sure we really care,” “Go out on a limb — that’s where the fruit is,” and “If we’re going to have animals around we have to be concerned about them and take care of them.”

The first thing I do each day is flip to Ross’ next painting on his calendar. I look forward to it. Why not? 

“It’s life. It’s interesting. It’s fun.”


© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts