Thursday, May 26, 2011

Goodbye

Anytime anyone has to say goodbye, in a permanent way that stretches a soul's fabric until it rips and is torn away, I get teary. I don't even need to know the person. Goodbyes make me sad. I can easily comfort myself with knowing more adventures are ahead (or I can comfort myself by saying, "Hey Sarah, you don't actually know these people, it's OK"). But the goodbye moment is sad, because I call up all the memories, routines, visits, familiarity and say goodbye to the comfort of it all. I wonder if and when I'll ever see them again. And will it ever be the same?
I know it sounds like I'm segueing into a deep review of moments I've said goodbye to people in my transient life, but I'm actually gearing up to talk about TV.
When Friends ended its run, I totally bawled. I had grown through my teenage years watching the show. I had got the Rachel haircut. I had watched it with my own girlfriends. I had tried so hard to copy Rachel's style, and I feel in love with the Bohemian lifestyle of being a single twentysomething in NYC.
But this was different.
Oprah's a real person, and she has been my biggest spiritual role model. I literally grew up watching her: I began viewing her show alongside my mom while she nursed my infant little brother. I watched her when I was at my most influential, and she filled my head with thoughts of my future, of writing, of ambition. I learned how to work through teenage feelings of inadequacy, and how to demand more from the world around me. She always said, "People will treat you how you let them treat you."
I learned about integrity and, from an early age, of being responsible for one's self. I made a lot of mistakes growing up, and I'm thankful I understood that there was no one to blame but myself, because shouldering the responsibility for the consequences helped me mature into someone I like today.
"Nobody but you is responsible for your life. It doesn't matter what your mama did; it doesn't matter what your daddy didn't do. You are responsible for your life. ... You are responsible for the energy that you create for yourself, and you're responsible for the energy that you bring to others."
I started to read through her book club selections the summer I lifeguarded outdoors at a very quiet swimming pool. I learned so much about the beauty and frailty of the human connection. I discovered books that used impeccable language to convey simple lessons that are often complicated to abide by. I really believe my love of the written word manifested under my beach umbrella that summer.
I have a lot of favourite episodes, and I integrated so many mantras and phrases of hers into my understanding and perspective. I know I am one of millions who has a story about how Oprah's show made a footprint on their lives.
She is a self-made woman, which I admire, and she has learned a lot through her life. I am glad she decided to have a final episode that gave her the chance to share her wisdom. She finished her show yesterday with words I will re-visit for the rest of my life.
"You're worthy because you are born and because you are here. Your being here, your being alive makes worthiness your birthright. You alone are enough."
I benefited from hearing this message from her and from my family throughout my life, but not everyone hears this. I hope that in my life, I can convey to everyone I care about that they are worthy, and that they matter to me.
"Try it with your children, your husband, your wife, your boss, your friends. Validate them. 'I see you. I hear you. And what you say matters to me.'"
The greatest gift I can give, I believe, is this feeling Oprah describes as being validated. It is so simple; no wonder it gets overlooked as a priority. My family, my friends are important to me.
I'm at a stage in life where I'm learning so much about what it is to be an adult, a mother, a friend by choice and not just because we have the same classes. I am sad to say goodbye to Oprah and her show, which was really a platform for her and her guests to help me navigate my road, with dignity and tact.
I don't think I'll ever stop feeling like there's something for me to learn, but after all these years learning from Oprah's show, I am sad to say goodbye to it. In true Oprah fashion, though, I am incredibly grateful for the ability all these years to gleam some wisdom and some exposure to new ideas that have really shaped who I am, and who I am still becoming.

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