I witnessed the astonishing capacity for human connection via innovation Saturday morning in my mother’s basement.
Manning her cellphone, three laptop computers and, on occasion, a hastily borrowed flip phone, my sister Jenny executive produced the final session of WW Presents, Oprah Winfrey’s Your Life In Focus: A Vision Forward virtual wellness tour.
She and an amazing team of technical directors, producers, and Zoom operators put together a seamless event that streamed live on three platforms — Zoom, Facebook Live and Youtube — for an audience that reached nearly four million by the end of the four-session run.
That brave use of technology was cool enough to see and hear, as I was lucky enough to do from a socially distant seat in my mom’s familiar rec room.
Then, Oprah started deftly leading a discussion that, thanks to her unique gift of genuine communication, made it seem like we were all sitting in a familiar rec room with her.
She reminded us to consider a phrase from Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now” that has become the virtual tour’s mantra.
“In this moment, I am well.”
She asked us all to take a four-second breath in unison and, from our isolated places around the globe, we all breathed in together.
“In this moment, we take a breath for all those who can’t breathe,” she said. “We breathe for them and celebrate the life that is inside us. Through this we honor them.”
“As long as there is breath, there is a way forward.”
In 90 minutes, Oprah personally chatted via Zoom with 30 different people, including a woman who had just lost her father. She welled up as she described the pain of grieving in isolation.
We all sort of fell away as Oprah zoomed in and it seemed like only those two women were left in the room.
“What was your father’s name,” she asked.
“Bert Ross,” the woman answered.
Oprah spoke at length about how relationships can grow even stronger when someone “who loved you and seeded you” passes away.
“The spirit is stronger on the other side and now you have a personal angel named Bert Ross, your daddy,” she said.
In addition to personal moments like that, Oprah addressed national issues, including the George Floyd protests and the racial discussions and very human questions they inspire.
“Do you see me? Can you hear me? Does my life matter to you? That’s what people want to know,” she said and she encouraged everyone to educate themselves about what they don’t know. Specifically, she mentioned the books “How to be an anti-racist” and “White Fragility”, which are already available, and “Caste (The origins of our discontent)”, which is coming out in August.
“We are clearly at a precipice and it could go either way,” she said. Later, she talked about what it meant to be “woke” and how that enlightenment should be available to everyone.
“Let’s take woke wherever we can get it,” she said. “I appreciate the rising. Come on up to the rising.”