Live My Best Life? Check.

Writing thank you notes to my teachers is one of the goals on my Mighty List, and I’m starting off with a doozy.

A couple weeks ago, Bryan surprised me with a ticket to see a taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show. I’ve been watching Oprah since I was little, and as I’ve mentioned before, it inspires me:

I cannot stop talking about the things I saw on Oprah. As I will myself to shut up, I can hear my mouth charging ahead with enthralling anecdotes about the Olsen twins’ business philosophies (shut up!), extending your passion to the world (shut! up!), and S-shaped bowel movements (ohmydeargod, shut up!). It’s gotten so bad that I decided I had to stop mentioning Oprah’s name in conversation. So now I say, “I saw this thing on… TV about how your poop is supposed to be S-shaped?” And all the women around me nod knowingly.

You’re nodding right now, aren’t you? Yeah. That’s why you’re on my team.

I signed a contract saying I wouldn’t blog about behind-the-scenes stuff, so I thought I’d tell you how much it meant to be at the Harpo Studios.

Meeting Oprah is on my Mighty List, so when I found out I’d get to see a show taping, it was an oddly emotional week. On the plane ride, I kept tearing up thinking of how much I’ve been influenced by the show, and then pretending to be asleep so the flight attendant wouldn’t see my eyes misting “Oh, no no! It’s nothing. I’m just thinking about… TV.”

I knew I wouldn’t get to meet Oprah this time around, but I figured it would be enough to sit in the audience and radiate gratitude. And you know what? It was.

The crew was taping three shows that day, and I’m sure Oprah was up at 4 a.m. to work out, do some reading, then hair and makeup, then tend to the tedium of world domination. Seeing her at work, I realized I never, ever want to be yet another thing on her to-do list. What I want is to bring her a glass of wine. Bryan used to work in politics, and he said he feels the same way about getting photos with presidents. You see how hard they’re working for the things you believe in, and you just want to do something to ease their lives, instead of inserting yourself in their paths.

Sitting in that studio, I realized that I don’t need to meet Oprah. What I need to do is thank her. So here it is, my very first thank you note to a teacher:

Dear Oprah,

Your message shielded me through a difficult childhood, and your example shaped the woman I’ve become. Through the years, you have been my Mary Tyler Moore, my Maya Angelou, my Mrs. Duncan. I am profoundly grateful for everything you have done for me; for every one of us.

Because of you I have known better, I have done better, I have thrived.

With thanks,
Maggie Mason