It is with some trepidation that I write this letter. Although its purpose is to thank you for the contribution you have made to my life and to the lives of people all over the planet, I can’t properly thank you without providing some context for my thanks, which requires that you have a sense of who I am and what I do. I am near the end of my career as a practicing dentist and for quite some time now, have been engaging in a good amount of writing. As of this time, my writing can be considered at very least, an avocation and at most a passion of mine. When it comes to writing, I think it is the reader that ultimately defines you to be a writer as opposed to just someone who writes. The manager of this blog tells me I have had close to 100,000 responses to my posts since November of 2018, with two thirds of those responses occurring in the last six months. You would know better than I what category that puts me in, writer or just someone who writes.
What inspired me to thank you are your programs on Super Soul Sundays. My wife passed away about a year and a half ago. She was a big fan of yours and recorded every one of your shows for at least a year, well over 60 shows. I’m sure you don’t remember, but you actually met my wife (Yvonne Allen) few years before she died. I have pictures of you and her and Maya Angelou together at a sorority function. Since she died your programs are one of those things of hers I couldn’t bare to give up. I can still remember her watching your shows while she cheerfully cooked Sunday dinner for me. She seemed almost blissfully happy as she paused every now and then to ponder your “Ah Ha” moments. Her life’s work was guidance and counseling and all of the subject matter of your guests (many of whom she knew of or had met) was right up her ally.
I decided not to erase your programs from the DVR until I watch every one of them. Since she had your program set on automatic record, almost every show I erase is replaced by a new show, so I still have a very long list of your shows on the DVR. The show that is the main catalyst for me wanting to offer my thanks to you is your interview with Journalist David Brooks. I’ve watched him a lot over the years, and never particularly liked him, mainly because he defined himself as conservative and I consider myself progressive. However, after listening to him talk about his latest book, The Second Mountain, I discovered that his life experience, at least from an emotional, psychological and spiritual standpoint, is almost identical to mine. My previous dislike for him my well have been due to his near perfect mirroring of myself, which on some level, I was not happy with. The understanding I derived from your interview is that the premise of Brooks’ book is that as humans, we climb two mountains in our lives. The first being the mountain of career related goals and aspirations we aspire to provide the monetary success we all seek, and the second being the spiritually motivated contribution to our fellow humans, the passion for which fuels our pursuit of the related goals and aspirations of that objective until we die. He asserts between those two mountains is a valley of despair which we go through on our way to the second mountain. That I could see myself so clearly in Brooks’ description of his life is a minor miracle that leaves me feeling more human, and appreciative of the kinship between every human being on the planet.
I’ve watched so many of your shows that I can’t remember which one of your guests pointed out that newborns and infants don’t have the concept of mirrors and self image as defined by what they see in the mirror as we do. Instead they see themselves in the faces of every human being they see in life. The infant’s personal identity is embodied on the faces of everyone on Earth. This is why when you smile at a little baby, one you might see looking back at you from the shoulder of his mother in a supermarket line for example, and you smile at the child, they almost always smile back. I was moved to tears when I thought about how tragic it is that we consciously corrupt those innocent souls with racist and fascist ideas and dogma.
Listening to your guests from all over the planet has provided me with insights I probably would have never had otherwise. I’m sure millions of others feel the same. So thank you Oprah for doing what you do. Like Gandhi and King before you, I’m sure history will regard you as one of the great unifiers of souls from all over the world, certainly in this country.