One evening this week, I went to see Oprah. Yes, THE Oprah. It was slightly surreal seeing her in the flesh, after 25 years of watching her on TV and hanging off her every word.
The venue, the Perth Arena, was PACKED to the gills. Lots of ladies, and a handful of long-suffering menfolk who had either been dragged there or, I guess, genuinely like Oprah. I think she appeals to lots of people, because of her down-to-Earth sensibility and good humour. She just is who she is. What you see is what you get. Which is a pretty amazing considering how famous she is, how wealthy and how utterly adored she is. I’d probably lose my mind if I was her. I like to think I’d still be the same big dork, but who knows how fame and fortune can affect you?
Anyway, it was a great evening and she is very inspirational. I found her life story to be very interesting – she’s lived an incredible life and gone through lots of make-or-break moments. I tried very hard to soak up what she was saying – because I tend to drift off when people are talking and get stuck on one thing they’ve said and then don’t hear everything else they’re saying. Which is why I never get asked to take minutes in meetings. I switch off after the “welcome” part and wake up again when it’s time to break for coffee and cake.
She spoke about her childhood and the forces and events that formed the person she is today. But, really, she was always OPRAH. I think it would have taken more than mere human beings and everyday experiences to change her into someone else. Some people are just MEANT TO BE. In that way, I envy her, because I don’t know who I am yet or what I am supposed to be doing. But, I live in hope that I will figure that out before it is too late. By next week would be awesome, but it will probably take longer than that, knowing me. I mean, I can’t even put a card together in less than three hours; how long will figuring myself out take?
Oprah recited one of her favourite pieces of poetry, Love after Love by Derek Walcott :
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Gorgeous. Took me forever to find it, because I forgot who the author was ha ha (not listening again) but I’m glad I remembered enough of the lines to search for it. God Bless Google. Oprah also quoted Invictus by William Ernest Henley, focusing on the last lines which she says she lives by, and has lived by, since a very young age :
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
She spoke about many things – about finding your path in life but being ok with not yet figuring it out. She talked of surrendering – doing the best you can in a situation, focusing on what you want and then letting it go, giving it up to the Universe. She described how obsessed she got with the Colour Purple – how she NEEDED to be in that movie, and then nearly didn’t get the role because she tried to change who she was, thinking that was what was expected. Many times in her life she was taught a lesson about being yourself and not forgetting who you are. It’s an important lesson to learn, I guess, no matter who you are.
I won’t go into huge detail about the evening – it was just great to see her and listen to her speak and just be there. I think she is inspirational in many ways and has done a lot of good in her life, with her wealth and influence. I know she’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I don’t think you can argue with the fact she has remained true to herself and helped a lot of people along the way. I would like to echo that in my own life – just figure out who I am and do some good as I go along. I probably don’t need to speak about it in front 10’000 people (and my life is fairly boring so I’m not sure I’d sell that many tickets!) but it would be nice to think you have changed someone’s life in a positive way, or that you helped someone, even for just a moment. I’m going to try and be more positive from now on and not so quick to get my cranky pants on, especially at work where my fuse can be dangerously short. It’s important to remember everything you do affects someone else and any energy you send out, negative or otherwise is being felt by others.
So, today I shall try and breathe – in, out – and not have a conniption if someone has left a tea bag in the sink, or if people don’t park in the lines, or if the toilet roll is empty and no one has replaced it. I’ll also be kind to myself – not berate myself for sneaking a cookie or needing an extra chai latte. Little steps. I’m sure Oprah would have made much larger steps and taken bigger risks but,for now, I will focus on changing my attitude and my inner voice and that angry little bee in my brain that chucks a wobbly a various intervals in the day.
An evening with Oprah – well worth it, if you get the chance 🙂