Oprah Winfrey was surprised by longtime love Stedman Graham on stage at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Jan. 24, 2013.
Photograph by: Jeff Vinnick, OWN
“Why are you here?” Oprah Winfrey asked 16,000 people, mostly women, on Thursday night.
“You know I don’t dance and sing, right?”
But it was a philosophical question too, and during her two-hour presentation at Rogers Arena, the media and motivational mogul asked her fans to consider their purpose in life.
By turns funny and self-deprecating as well as serious, the 58-year-old told the story of her ascent from a childhood in poor, rural Mississippi to her position as one of the most powerful celebrities and influential women in the world.
“My hope is that — with no singing or dancing — you will leave here with a little morsel; a level of consciousness that allows you to be better, to do better, to live better and to love better. That’s the ultimate question for all of us: why are you here?”
Judith Gibson, interviewed while waiting to get into the show, credited Winfrey with helping her figure that out.
“Lots of times I’ve had something weighing on my mind, decisions, problems. And I’d tune in and they’d be dealing with it on the show,” she said, adding Winfrey taught her to let go of regrets and a few professional disappointments.
“You’ve got to find your true purpose, and now I think I’ve found it,” said Gibson, an accountant who is in the process of becoming an accounting teacher.
One of Winfrey’s tenets of self-help is the idea of finding your calling. Hers, Winfrey said, is speaking in front of crowds, something she started when she was a child, reading scripture in church. As a teen she won a beauty contest and told the judges she might like to be a broadcaster. She was on air as a radio host at 19.
Winfrey hosted her own television show for 25 years, retiring from daily talk-show duties with the launch of the Oprah Winfrey Network last year.
Winfrey talked about listening to your inner voice, whether you consider it the voice of God or as she likes to say, “your emotional GPS,” on the road to self-actualization.
For her, pursuing her calling, or finding the “acorn in the oak” and then sharing it, meant making some changes.
She turned away from a he-said-she-said tabloid talk show format during the height of its popularity in the ‘90s to develop a program that dealt with pop psychology, current affairs, some couch-jumping celebrities, but mostly “living your best life,” complete with book clubs, favourite things and a-ha moments.
For Alana Donnelly, who forked over $300 to hear “my girlfriend Oprah” speak, her a-ha moment came just this year.
Donnelly, a business development manager for a trucking company, recently moved to Chilliwack, and goes to Southside Church.
“They ask you to tithe your income, and it’s something I’ve always had an issue with,” she said. But her church was planning to spend the money building schools in Haiti.
“It dawned on me, that this money is a blessing to you. You earn it but if you share the wealth, it comes back to you ten-fold in different ways.”
“Plus, 90 per cent is still a lot to keep.”
Nearly all the women and the very few men waiting outside the arena to get into the show cited Winfrey as a source of inspiration, a compassionate mother figure or friend they were about to meet for the first time.
Melissa Christopherson, who won a chance to meet Winfrey in a contest, brought a handwritten letter and five books for her to sign.
“I watched her every day after school as a teen, and then they invented PVR,” so she never missed a show.
“I think she’s one of the most compassionate people that’s ever lived.”
For the record, Winfrey also addressed her struggling network, the fact that it’s constantly referred to as struggling, and how she’s moving forward.
Although no cars were given away, the talk went over familiar ground for Oprah Winfrey Show fans. Which, judging by the deafening roar that greeted her arrival and then her departure two hours later, was just the idea.
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