Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The Oprah Syndrome
You have to have lived on another planet last week to have missed Oprah's closing show. Well, there were actually two last closing shows. Twenty-five years and thousands of guests and hundreds of hours of self-promotion with her charity work and book promotions, image issues, and cathartic moments. No matter her weight, Oprah has been every woman's muse.
Humans need gurus. We need models and counselors and guides to help us live our lives without drowning in quiet desperation. We are surrounded by people, places and things, and yet, we are still lonely and full of fears. After all, we're going to die some day for sure. No one can stop that, not even Oprah. We can't figure out why our lives remain stagnant and lacking in excitement. We expect more of ourselves; we are looking for another paradigm, a new way of looking at life and Oprah and her gurus have been the people who would help us find happiness and peace, and maybe take away all our thoughts of mortality. We will live on through Oprah.
Oprah makes us feel better about ourselves because, after all, who else but Oprah is going to bring us joy, give us have self-esteem, find love, be better parents and stay healthy and physically fit, and put off dying. We trust her and we love her and we worship her. She has assured us that she has made life much better for all of us.
We seem desperate and committed to have someone else help us cope with loneliness and provide us with everything that we cannot do for ourselves. Don't we have our own resources to make ourselves find joy and passion in life? Sure we do but we haven't realized that we are basically lazy. Desperate and lazy. Viewers sit on sofas and watch Oprah and her guests generate excitement and energy, make interesting decisions by taking actionable steps to achieve their own dreams. These guests are their own change agents. We like to watch them do cool things and go to spiritual places. We want to find out what inspires them. We want to be like them. But we are simply voyeurs and outsiders.
On Oprah's last show she gave us a directive to follow the actions of those thousands of guests who are examples of inspiration. These are for the most part people who lived life to the fullest and inspired others along the way. So, after 25 years, Oprah told us to get a move on and find our calling. Yes, that's right: our calling. She told us we can follow our dreams and be all that we can be and make our mark on the world just like everyone who came before on her show.
However, she forgot to tell us to get off the couch and stop watching television. That's because she owns a TV network called OWN and she has programs on OWN that she wants the couch potatoes to watch. They, too, will be as inspirational as her talk shows.
Unfortunately, Oprah gave her spirited address to those who simply watch on the sidelines and leave the action to others. Oprah never gave the couch potatoes a life line to do what we are called to do. Most will not do anything at all but watch the next version of her talk show. While Oprah was telling us what we should do, she was moving on to other projects and other journeys that were going to be bigger and better than what she had been doing for the last 25 years. She left it to others to help us get off the couch.
Anyone and everyone is entitled to retire or to be a change agent. It's not just the way of the powerful and rich. But Oprah thought it was time to pass on the crown on to the next guru. She did her part and played her guru role to the fullest. Along with giving away cars and trips, she sponsored schools and helped many people and recommended many good books. Maybe some of it was show biz and some of it was real but all of it was her calling. This might be her finest journey.