Monday, August 08, 2011

Turning 31

On the eve of my 31st birthday, I am in a very weird place.

I am trying to wrap my head around where I am now.

I have a lot on my plate. A lot.

Here is an excerpt of one of the greatest TV writing I have ever witnessed- Oprah's farewell from the Oprah Winfrey Show.

"After deliberating for some time, we decided to do what we do best, and that is a show about and with everyday people. This show always allows people, hopefully, to understand the power they have to change their own lives. If there's one thread running through each show we do, it is the message that you are not alone. Twenty-five years and I'm still saying thank you, America. Thank you so much. There are no words to match this moment. Every word I've ever spoken from this stage of The Oprah Show for 4,561 days of my life is what this moment is all about.

"When I came here, I was about to turn 30 years old. I didn't have a vision or a lot of great expectations. Stedman talks about vision all the time, but I didn't have one when I came here. I just wanted to do a good job and cause no harm. ... That first day was a shock to me. There was no audience. There I am in my best Anne Klein II velour outfit, my guests were a few Chicago football players, New Year's Day, 1984. ... I needed people. I needed to have you to gauge how things were going during the show, if you were responding, if you were laughing, if you were tracking with me. So after that first show, we put up some folding chairs in the audience. We brought in the staff. Secretaries. Anybody we could find in the building and filled the first rows with staff people and the rest with people off the street that we bribed with doughnuts and coffee, and we'd say, 'Come in.'

"Two years later, when we went national, I remember at the time, Roger King told me that one station manager said that he'd rather put a potato in a chair in his market than have a big black girl with a funny name. And in spite of that, from Memphis to Macon, from Pittsburgh to Pensacola, from New York to New Orleans, you all let me in."

"The first week we went national, I remember I got a letter from a woman named Carrie in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Carrie said, 'Oprah, watching you be yourself makes me want to be more of myself.' That was and still remains one of the nicest things I ever heard. What Carrie felt is what I wanted for every single one of you. I wanted to encourage you to be more of yourself just as you all encouraged me, and you cheered me on and occasionally complained about my outfits, my big hair and earrings the size of napkins. Now I see you had every reason to.


"Soon after I started the show, something shifted for me. It really did. I started the show as a job and was very happy to get the job, but it was not long before I understood that there was something else going on here. More than just job satisfaction. Something in me connected with each of you in a way that allowed me to see myself in you and you in me. I became your surrogate—to ask the questions, deliver the answers, learn, grow, expand my thinking, challenge my beliefs and the way I looked at the world. I listened and grew, and I know you grew along with me.


"Sometimes I was the teacher, and more often, you taught me. It is no coincidence that I always wanted to be a teacher and I ended up in the world's biggest classroom. And this, my friends, will be our last class from the stage.


"What I knew for sure from this experience with you is that we are all called. Everybody has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the business of doing it. Every time we have seen a person on this stage who is a success in their life, they spoke of the job, and they spoke of the juice that they receive from doing what they knew they were meant to be doing. We saw it in the volunteers who rocked abandoned babies in Atlanta. We saw it with those lovely pie ladies from Cape Cod making those delicious potpies. ... We saw it every time Tina Turner, Celine, Bocelli or Lady Gaga lit up the stage with their passion. Because that is what a calling is. It lights you up and it lets you know that you are exactly where you're supposed to be, doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing. And that is what I want for all of you and hope that you will take from this show. To live from the heart of yourself. You have to make a living; I understand that. But you also have to know what sparks the light in you so that you, in your own way, can illuminate the world."

"When I started, not even I imagined that this show would have the depth and the reach that you all have given it. It has been a privilege for me to speak to you here in this studio, in this country and in 150 countries around the world on this platform that is The Oprah Winfrey Show. You let me into your homes to talk to you every day. This is what you allowed me to do, and I thank you for that. But what I want you to know as this show ends: Each one of you has your own platform. Do not let the trappings here fool you. Mine is a stage in a studio, yours is wherever you are with your own reach, however small or however large that reach is. Maybe it's 20 people, maybe it's 30 people, 40 people, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your classmates, your classroom, your co-workers. Wherever you are, that is your platform, your stage, your circle of influence. That is your talk show, and that is where your power lies. In every way, in every day, you are showing people exactly who you are. You're letting your life speak for you. And when you do that, you will receive in direct proportion to how you give in whatever platform you have.


"My great wish for all of you who have allowed me to honor my calling through this show is that you carry whatever you're supposed to be doing, carry that forward and don't waste any more time. Start embracing the life that is calling you and use your life to serve the world."

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