Oprah, who doesn’t even bother to use her last name any more, is worth about a bajillion dollars, on which she earns about a gazillion dollars a month in interest. Oprah doesn’t have to work any more, but she does because she wants all of us, her fans (and I am one) to be better people.
Over the years, Oprah has taught us the meaning of love, as in, “I love those $300 stiletto heels,” and the meaning of money, as in “It’s nice to have it but it doesn’t make you happy.” Unfortunately, the truth of that statement is written all over Oprah’s life.
Oprah is a seeker, a becomer, a person striving to overcome, but at this point one has to wonder what she has not triumphed over — certainly her humble beginnings, and prejudice and sexism — but still she continues to seek.
She walks over hot coals at a Tony Robbins seminar, then encourages best friend Gayle King to do the same, which she does.
I suppose there are people who envy Gayle, but I do not. My friends and I enjoy a glass of wine over a good meal with talk of books and movies. And while I’m sure Gayle and Oprah do that on occasion, they are more likely to undertake a project designed to change the world and transform themselves in the process — like cross-country camping.
Transformation is the name of the Oprah game. In a recent issue of O magazine, the cover read: How to transform your ... luck, habits, stress level, friendships, health, style and attitude. I have not yet achieved the transformation of my junk room to guest bedroom. “Just weave through those boxes there and you’ll eventually find the bed,” I tell my guests.
It’s not enough for Oprah to change herself, she urges me to do the same. No, urges is the wrong word, demands is more like it. We, her audience, her readers, are stand-ins for the ever cheerful, plucky Gayle. When Gayle is not around to transform, we are her stand ins. Oprah wants us to “Live Your Best Life.”
I’m trying. I’m trying, but my worst life keeps getting in the way. Oprah told me about three young men who built a school in Guatemala using trash. It sounds as easy as pie, but I must be fundamentally lacking because I did not feel compelled to do the same, though surely used gum wrappers must be good for something.
Oprah gave up her daytime talk show to run a network. That is not my idea of retirement. More recently she announced her entire work life has been preparation for her real calling — oh, please, no — teaching. She said she was happiest during her years on Oprah sharing aha moments. “Those were the times I felt most alive,” she said.
Teacher Oprah is not finished with us as she will never be finished with herself. She intends for each and every one of us to “fulfill the highest expression of ourselves.” When you get right down to it, finding my own highest expression probably isn’t a group activity at all.
Oprah tells us to just be, but she is continually becoming. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that I need to take in the view from here before I rush off to gaze at the next vista.
Jan Hearne is the Press Tempo editor. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.