Let’s suppose for a moment that we all agree on this premise:
The purpose of life is to
- Love and be of service to others
- Develop one’s own emotional, intellectual, creative and spiritual potential to its fullest
- Positively influence the emotional, intellectual, creative and spiritual growth of others
- Leave the world a bit better than it was when you arrived
(You’ve probably noticed the list doesn’t include anything that refers to allegiance to a specific religious figure. That one is between you and God so we’ll leave it closed to outside scrutiny.)
I don’t know where you are on your list, but, um… Well, let’s just say I hope I have at least another 50 years or so left to work on mine, ’cause I’ll likely need every second of that time to accomplish even 1% of what Oprah Winfrey (who was born to a single teen mother and raised in a house with no electricity and no running water) has in her 50+ years. But hey, maybe I can get a little extra credit for having raised a houseful of kids with little assistance from my ex-husband.
When you are at the helm of an empire as gargantuan as Oprah’s, it is a given that you will have sacrificed much in your personal life along the way. After watching her recent interview with Barbara Walters, I have gained a profound respect for Oprah’s dedication to perfecting her craft, and her unbelievable work ethic–but I find myself wishing that she and Stedman had produced some children. With the kind of career ambitions Oprah held from a young age, I can completely understand why she didn’t feel like motherhood was her path, but it just seems impossible to me that she and Stedman wouldn’t have raised some beautiful kids that would have added value to the world. I know, I know, what happens or doesn’t happen in the woman’s womb is none of my business, but as with all public figures, it’s always tempting (and easy when you’re not in their shoes) to speculate on what they should or should not do with whatever they’ve got.
Despite the fact that Oprah is tested on a daily basis with the kind of wealth and power that would turn many of us into self-aggrandizing heathens with little concern for the lives of others, I would venture to say the number of souls she’s purposely helped (so far) in her lifetime far outweighs any she’s purposely hurt, and despite the fact that her “brand” generates billions in corporate profits, the legacy she’ll leave when she’s gone will certainly be one of inspiration, transformation and personal growth. And, according to Oprah, she’ hasn’t even really gotten started yet.
When asked by Barbara if she felt like she’s accomplished the greatness she was born to, Oprah replied,
“I feel that I’m still in process…as great as the past 25 years have been–just astounding, I mean really the word ‘AWEsome’ does apply–I think it was just the beginning.”
I was a guest on Oprah’s show many years ago, which impacted my writing life and my career in countless ways I won’t go into here, but I’m not one of those Oprah worshipers who believe she walks on water (if that were possible, believe me her producers would have already made a show about it). No. Oprah’s no saint (nor has she ever pretended to be). The woman is certainly flawed, as all of us humans are, but it amazes me how many vicious haters she has in the world. I mean, really. Give the woman a friggin’ break already.
Frankly, I’m not sure what kind of person I’d be if I was worth 2.3 billion. (Not that I wouldn’t like to find out.)
If you didn’t get a chance to watch the Barbara Walters’ interview, I have posted it below. (Thank you to CelinishAnime for uploading the 5-part interview to YouTube for our viewing pleasure.)