I have a little dish on a bookshelf in my bedroom that holds small but possibly critical pieces to various parts of my home. I have no idea from whence any of them came, but I know that in case I ever experience an emergency of any kind, I will immediately sort through the various screws, picture hooks, bolts and metal pieces to try and determine which will save the day. I have faith one of them just might.
I have come to think of The Oprah Winfrey Show as I do the contents of that little dish: I’m not exactly sure where it fits into my life exactly, but without it I fear I’ll be lost in the event of a crisis. I have always known she’ll come through for me when I need her most, but since she is essentially a talk-show host, I haven’t quite figured out what would qualify as the speaking catastrophe in which I might be required to pick up the Batphone and have her swoop in and save me from my own verbal self.
As I’ve watched the 25th season of her show faithfully since September (and off and on through the years) in anticipation of her saying good-bye forever (or at least until she announces one of what I’m sure will be many new shows in which she’ll star to boost ratings on her network, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network), I’ve tried to absorb as many lessons as possible. You know, just in case I need to bank a few more for after she’s gone for good (on network television, anyway) tomorrow.
Over the past month, for example, I’ve learned that if you are a lesbian woman-turned-heterosexual man (Chaz Bono), Canadian-turned-Swiss-and-back-to-Canadian again (Shania Twain), or a British commoner-turned-royalty-turned-disgrace (Sarah Ferguson), and wealthy either through birth, album sales or selling access to your former prince, then you, too, can get your own TV show in which you can get as much gratis help as possible.
What people like me (straight, happily married Americans with no singing voice or royal aspirations of note and no fairy godmother willing to pay me to air my dirty laundry on cable TV) stand to gain from watching those specific shows remains to be seen, but I’m guessing Oprah knows something I don’t (as usual). Which means I’ll probably be compelled to watch all three of their shows on OWN at some point just so I can add them to my little dish. Because you just never know.
Often times I come away from watching Oprah feeling better about myself, but usually by default, really. As in, I’m not nearly as screwed up as that (fill in the name of a hapless guest). Frequently I find myself envious of the guests on her show, not to mention the audience members who luck out with thousands of dollars of booty like weddings, exotic vacations and cars (although I did feel sorry for the audience who thought they were getting hooked up but instead got reusable grocery totes from Julia Roberts. Was that really the best she could do?).
Sometimes I feel worse, or if not worse, then simply morose when the closing credits roll. Her recent show on the biggest teaching moments over the years had me sobbing, and they were most definitely not tears of joy. Between the skinheads, the suicidal mom who lost a child and the anorexic who lost her battle with life, I got the point, I think, of why Oprah wanted to do that show, but it seemed to me that it was for her benefit alone. She succeeded in growing and moving on from the depression that those subjects brought, but for me it is still lingering.
Her behind-the-scenes show on OWN has been even better (to me, at least) than her actual show, because we get more of a glimpse into her life, even if it’s just in your office and dressing room. One of the most interesting behind-the-scenes shows on OWN was when they did a behind the scenes on filming the behind the scenes. It’s kind of the like the Land O’Lakes Indian holding a box of Land O’Lakes in which she’s featured on the cover. Where it stops, no one knows.
It seems to me that Oprah is her own best example of how to life your best life. Of course all the pithy sayings in the world (“When you know better you do better” and “You have always had the power” among them) aren’t as powerful as what a billion dollars can buy you in the form of self-help and realization. I don’t begrudge her any success; watching her live your best life has inspired me to dream big. Like, Oprah big. Or just a fraction of Oprah big would do, too.
I do feel badly that my daughters will never have the opportunity to try and learn some lessons from Oprah, because I really do think she has her heart in education. But more and more I’m thinking what her show has given me was the chance to escape my reality to imagine her or an hour every afternoon, and maybe my daughters would have enjoyed her for simply for that reason, too.
I can only imagine the joy that must come from inspiring select guests and audience members with your generosity of spirit and wallet. Viewers like me enjoy watching her enjoy what she does. And maybe that’s what I’ll miss the most. Either way, I know when I have a talk-related emergency that I can just check my dish to see how she can help. Because even in her absence, her presence will be felt and possibly come in handy.
What will you miss most about Oprah, if anything?
Looking back on the good times: Oprah’s Best Family Moments!