As the LRT train filled with countless groups of women, the anticipation was palpable. We had all plunked down some major coin and had no concrete idea of what we were going to get for our money. Like millions before us, we were making a leap of faith and in the process stroking off a big bucket list item: See Oprah live.
Only a person awakening from a 25-year coma could be forgiven for not understanding the woman’s unique contribution to modern life. Whether you love her or hate her, there is no disputing the reach of her influence. She has reshaped talk television, inspired readers, made herself vulnerable by sharing her own story, and inspired millions with her can-do message of hope.
I won’t attempt to tell her story in this small space; most of it is widely known. I will tell you what I felt and observed.
Like all of us, Oprah is a complex character who defies definition. She demonstrates both humility and a fierce sense of pride. She is a cup of potential in the ocean of life, and powerless without her God. Later she spoke of her incredible love for herself; something most of us could do well to emulate.
She was both funnier and skinnier than I expected. She also looked older than her air-brushed presence in her magazine. She spoke about her weight and her Lance Armstrong interview. She name-dropped. She moved comfortably back and forth across the stage in red stilettos and spoke without notes for an hour or more. A PowerPoint presentation with photos and words of wisdom helped drive her message home. Teleprompters and a timer kept her on topic and on time.
She moaned about our weather, but from what I’ve seen, Chicago has more extremes. She miscalculated when Obama’s inauguration was and ended up being in Edmonton instead of Washington, which delighted the crowd.
Oprah is very much a pro?and no one’s fool. Mentioning the name of the city she was in was a sure crowd pleaser. Referencing her struggling OWN television network and showing a photomontage of many of the shows felt calculated and self-serving. During the sit-down interview part, George Stroumboulopoulos seemed like little more than stage dressing. He had barely finished throwing her a question when she was off and running. She did tell him that one of the questions was good and the kind she would have asked.
Oprah is an orator and an intellect. She’s able to make us believe we can do better: Look for the thread that has woven its way through your life, because your purpose is there. don’t say yes when you mean no. Watch how you finish the sentence ?I am . . . ? because it will manifest. Gratitude for what we have leads to more. We are blessed. Believe people when they show you who they are.
Two hours with Oprah was a good thing, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.