I listen to a lot of podcasts ranging from true crime, current events, arts and leisure to comedy; just to name a few. Recently I’ve been drawn to interviews with entrepreneurs and particularly, strong females. Over the weekend, I listened to one featuring Oprah Winfrey. It wasn’t just an interview with Oprah, it was the most “Oprah interview” I have ever heard in my life. And I can’t stop thinking about it.
It was an episode of “We are Supported By,” which is the offspring of Dax Shepard’s podcast, “Armchair Expert.” His co-hosts, Monica Padman and Kristen Bell, speak with influential women across multiple fields to discover how they became successful and have paved the way for others to do the same. It would be impossible to have this format and not interview Oprah, one of the most successful media moguls in the world.
I have consumed a lot of Oprah's content over the years, from watching her talk show with my mother, buying her 20th anniversary DVD collection in college, and even listening to her own podcast, “Super Soul Conversations.” But this interview came with the heat. She quoted Maya Angelou, gave us some Gayle insights, even slipped in a little “teach people how to treat you” quote when she had the chance. To borrow a phrase, she understood the assignment.
As the end of the episode drew near, the conversation shifted toward trusting yourself. This is where we hit “Level 10 Oprah.” She speaks of asking yourself what you want and in order to do that, you must find the stillness. Then, she tells us a story... One night, Oprah is asleep on the night of a full moon. The moon was so bright that it glistened off of the ocean and illuminated her bedroom, which wakes her up. She walks out onto her ocean-facing balcony and stares out at the moon, the stars, and the ocean. A rooster even crows because it thinks it’s morning. A tear rolls down her cheek and there is nothing but STILLNESS. She actually whispers this. “COMPLETE STILLNESS.” And then she says, and I quote, “I am that stillness and that stillness… is me.”
To do this clip justice, it’s best if you just listen to it yourself.
What a moment. It’s a moment that only seems achievable by Oprah herself. The ocean-facing balcony. The light glistening off the ocean, illuminating the tears rolling down her cheek. The rooster crowing. It’s as unimaginable as it is unattainable. I nearly laughed as I heard this story, but I stopped when I recognized that my reaction was coming from jealousy. “Why can’t I be the stillness, too?”
As a full-time working, single mom, there is no stillness--- there is only chaos. At work, there are meetings, decisions, coaching, fire extinguishing, and a series of tasks that I’ll have to put off until tomorrow. At home, it is an endless conveyor belt of responsibilities, parenting, cleaning and by the end of the day, it looks like Lucy and Ethel working at the chocolate factory.
The downtime is not still. The downtime is disassociation in front of the TV and scrolling on my phone until I force myself to go to bed. There is no time for a soul-searching session on a balcony to be still and hear myself.
I’m currently in the middle of a very stressful season of my life where it’s easier to solicit feedback and advice from others rather than listen to my own voice. It’s easier to blame a busy schedule than be accountable for not prioritizing my own needs and wants. How many times have you caught yourself doing the same?
For me, listening to the soothing whisper of Oprah’s voice was the wake-up call I needed. Stillness is what I needed.
Now to practice stillness, I try to wake up earlier than my children and reflect on what I need to get out of the day. What are the things I need to do? What are the things I want to do? How can I best serve myself today? What am I saying to myself when I am absolutely still? And while I can’t have those moments on a moonlit balcony facing the ocean (yet), the quietness of my bedroom is exactly what I need.
What will you do to find the stillness today?