Listening to: Sara Bareilles. The Blessed Unrest.
Through a series of serendipities, including being given a free ticket, I found myself sitting with 10,000 other women at Oprah’s “The Life Your Want” weekend. I have to say upfront that it was an amazing event. Set, music, lighting. Not even Celine Dion does it any bigger.
I will also confess that while I have fantasized about Oprah as president (yes, she could command armies and stare Putin into submission), I had no desire to pay $500 to hear her and her “trailblazers” encourage me to be all I can be. In fact, I had said, “no,” several weeks ago when my friend, Kirstin, told me she planned to go and invited me to join. Self-help books, motivational speakers, and getting a “personal” message in a sports arena from a billionaire celebrity are not my things. Even when Kirstin called to tell me she had won a ticket and asked me to join her, my first impulse was to refuse.
But I have been in a bit of a funk lately, and though I’m a practical woman, I do believe in signs. I regarded the free ticket as a gift from the universe, one that I would be foolish to refuse. So I hopped an Uber to Key Arena and joined Kirstin for Oprah’s kick off.
I completely enjoyed my time with Oprah. Every moment of her hyper-produced, completely choreographed, nothing unrehearsed stage show. She is a riveting storyteller, both because she knows how to spin a tale and because she has tales to spin. She has lived a life of amazing ups and downs, and she is especially interesting right now, because the jury is still out on whether or not she’s going to make a success out of OWN. The one thing more inspirational than Oprah at the top is Oprah climbing to the top. This is when we get to see her superhuman tenacity, focus, and understanding of what people want.
Oprah travels with a group of people she calls “the trailblazers”: Elizabeth Gilbert, Rob Bell, Iyanla Vanzant, and Mark Nepo. They are all good speakers, interesting personalities with valuable bits of wisdom to share, but none of them possess the power that is Oprah. Not even close. In fact, hearing their stories — though insightful and entertaining — made me appreciate Oprah even more. The best moments of the event came when Oprah was on stage.
Including the trailblazers, though, highlights Oprah’s genius. As I said, Oprah’s power is her story. And the people who have influenced her thinking are a part of that story. Just like the photos of Oprah’s favorite spot at her Santa Barbara home (a chair under twelve oak trees), her favorite music (played by VJ Kiss), and promos for upcoming Oprah-produced shows and movies (including the Martin Luther King biopic, “Selma,” which looks pretty great), the trailblazers provide windows into a woman who is one of the most fascinating people of my lifetime. They are an extension of her, evidence of who she is and what she values.