For some, the mere mention of this word, "Oprah" will invoke a visceral response. For many others, it is a light in their closet of skeletons.
I fall in the latter category.
The phenomenon that is Oprah Winfrey has been an undercurrent in our society for the past fifteen years that is unimaginable in scope and in depth. Personally, I watched very little "Oprah"; perhaps ten shows in all. Truthfully, I was initially turned off by the outrageous tabloid stuff that the Oprah Winfrey Show did in the mid eighties- the stuff that Geraldo Rivera and Jerry Springer made truly a spectacle. Luckily for us all, Oprah wasn't good at that stuff- because it wasn't real for her. And the transition to the Oprah that we all know today happened "live" in our living rooms whether we watched it or not, and we all became better for it.
Today, Oprah did her last, last, last installment of the Oprah Winfrey Show. It was simply her, telling her story, and her experience over the last twenty-five years. And I was moved. She is, in part, responsible for making possible who I am today- even though I never followed her, did any assignments, or wrote any journals. Because of her reach into our genuine Selves, she made it all possible nonetheless.
The gentle breeze that blows toward the Truth, toward honesty and Reality in our society today, emanates through televisions across the continent from the Harpo Studios.
The power of Ms. Winfrey's influence is intangible but pervasive. Thanks to her fearless prodding, to her openness, through the presence of her television show in millions of living rooms, Oprah gave permission to those who had been silent, to talk. And for those who suffered alone in silence, she gave voice to those who could not speak. In so doing, she changed the dialogue- in North America at least- between people- and shone a light on the things that really matter.
Some say that the success of Oprah is one of a Cult of Personality. While I would not presume to speak for Ms. Winfrey in any way, I would suggest that to an extent, she would agree. Few others could do what she has done. As she pointed out on her final show today, a black girl, born in 1954 in the back woods of Mississippi had no real future except to be a maid or a teacher in a segregated school. Her life is a testament to what has become possible- what is possible. Her success is, in part, because of her starting point.
That she went into television- and has the strength of character and decisiveness of a multi-media conglomerate tycoon is the "Cult of Personality" part. Oprah Winfrey made the Oprah Winfrey we know- and has used every tool available to her to make us want to "worship" her, some might say. Yet, she points that out in her soliloque today, don't confuse personality with message. Just do, or more importantly, be what we have to, so we can be responsible for ourselves; to do the great things we were meant to do, to fulfill our destiny.
Oprah's destiny happens to be what we see before us on Channel 3 or 12 or 216 or wherever we see her. Ours, on the other hand, is most likely much less public and grandiose. But when we are 'in our groove', there is a cult of personality that surrounds us too. How can there not be? Our love radiates and multiplies and in that space, our energy is a uniting force. It is so precious, so fleeting among us, it stands out. Kudos to her for recognizing and actualizing her gift. This is not the time for critical studies, however, it is a time for simple observation.
"Guys" don't get it. At least that's what they want us all to believe. But the number of "Guys"- the tough ones out there who work hard to be impervious to the hurt they might feel if they 'let go' are considerably fewer now than when she took to the airwaves with her message.
I was one of those "Guys". And just knowing that it was safe enough for millions around me to look under the rug where all their secrets were hidden made it safe for me to do the same.
I have learned a lot from the Oprah Winfrey Show- even just the handful of shows that I have seen. And today was no exception. To the very end, Oprah Winfrey was a gentle teacher because she was a gentle student of Life. And although I have never thought of this as something to write down, because of how and from whom she learned this, I most certainly will.
Please take responsibility for the energy that you bring into this place.
Even though I was not a devoted follower, I know that I- and all who surround me- are beneficiaries of the miracle that is Oprah Winfrey.
Her show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, may have come to a conclusion- the plane has finally landed- in her words. But thankfully, she is certainly not gone.
But I thank you Oprah Winfrey, for a Quarter-Century of discovery. For a real Journey that lead millions to validation, to peace, to love, and to Truth.
That is my take. Would you agree?