The Tao of Oprah

I just finished watching the finale episode of Oprah. Ever.

She ended it the only way she could. No guests. No surprises. Just Oprah sharing her wisdom and learnings through the years. Oprah giving thanks to the audience and her crew.

I haven’t spoken much about Oprah in my life. I didn’t watch the show everyday growing up. I’ve watched plenty of it. Hundreds of hours even. But I wouldn’t consider myself part of the Cult of Oprah. All that aside, I find myself overwhelmed with respect for her. I respect her view of life, her effect on the world, and her careful and compassionate use of power. The Tao of Oprah is comprised of a few key ingredients: Compassion, Inspiration and Belief.

Compassion is a funny word. Compassion. We should use it more as a people. We should find more reasons to use it. We should create more instances of it. Oprah has embodied and shared  compassion with us for twenty-five years.She spoke about the energy we give off towards others through our feelings and actions. In many ways, it made me think of courage and fear. Isn’t compassion the ability to overcome fear and deliver good upon someone else? Isn’t it finding the strength to show comfort or support to someone or something different and frightening? Even if it’s little by little, we need to find the compassion in our daily lives. We need to do good with good intentions. We need to make the world a warmer, friendlier place. We so often see power wielded for such good as what Oprah has. She’s a shining example of how perfect imperfection can be. She’s taught us all to open our hearts to compassion. To invite it in to live within us.

She spun the wheels round my head, much like a thousand colorful frisbees thrown at once across a green lawn on a bright summer day. I could explode from the sheer amount of ideas she inspired in me. Oprah speaks of Inspiration in terms of passion more often than not. Find that passion for what you love. Find your calling. She reminded me how often I meet people who lack that inspiration.What excites you? What makes you feel tingly inside? What does good for the world that makes you happy? Being a parent? Being a husband? Dancing? Writing? For me, it’s creating. Creating stories through my words, pictures of actions. I’ve loved stories my entire life. Books, comics, movies, television. People think I’m obsessed with Hollywood or celebrities. Not at all. I’m obsessed with stories. They are my inspiration. Stories are the fire I have to birth. Oprah reminded me tonight what that feeling of completeness really feels like when you’re doing what is natural to you. What fuels you. I think back to my first corporate job out of college and how miserable I was. I could do the work, hell I even excelled. But I hated my life. So in my free time, I started writing chapters of a thriller for my colleagues. It was our end of day entertainment. My escape from torture was creating an adventure. I’ve been lucky enough the past few years to have a job where I’m part of that creation process. Where a voice is heard. It came so naturally to me compared to my previous jobs. Thank you Oprah for reminding me to always search out that inspiration and to let myself be inspired.

Belief. Oh man, Belief is a tricky one. Many years ago, a friend of mine brought me the Secret DVD. She insisted I watch it, as it changed her life. I’m happy say, it changed mine too. I remember Oprah getting a lot of flack for doing a show on the Secret. Naysayers questioned the idea that we as humans could make things happen through positive affirmation and belief. And therein lies the problem. We as a people and society so rarely believe in something or someone. And no, pious unquestioning faith in religion is not real belief. Belief is knowing something deep in your bones. Belief is taking a leap and not being afraid to delve into the questions you may have about it. Belief is cuddling up next to the idea and wearing it around you like a coat. We most often lack the belief in ourselves. And we do it to each other as much as we do to it to ourselves. I’ve been told I’m too young, too old, too smart, too dumb, too pretty, too ugly, too arrogant, not arrogant enough. It never ends. But we have to push past that. We control the movie that is our life, and we control who is in that movie. The script of our life is in our control. We just have to believe it. And through belief comes power to change the things you want to change. The hardest thing we’ll ever do is to fully believe in ourselves and what we can accomplish.

Oprah, my gift to you is littered within this post. Within the words and between the lines. You’ve charged a path of inspiration by believing in your mission and exercising compassion. I’m awed by you and your deeds. I’m thankful for you.

-Ry

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