Vanessa Greenberg: But sometimes when we try to help others, we fail. I'm a psychiatry resident in the Bronx, and I have patients who can't make it to their appointment because they're in the process of getting evicted—or they make it to the appointment, but then their kids don't make it to school. It's frustrating. How do you not become cynical?
Oprah: There's no room for cynicism in the world. I'm not cynical because I know that if one person isn't ready to be reached, somebody else is. But I have learned that I'm not good with children who are delinquents. I tried working with kids like that, and then I said, "I'm going to get arrested for popping somebody upside the head." What I'm really good at is, "If you want the opportunity, I'll provide it."
Kate O'Halloran: My favorite Oprah-ism is that the universe talks to you first in a whisper, and then gets louder and louder until you get the message. Can you share a time when you experienced that?
Oprah: It happens every day. Not like Moses and the burning bush, but the universe is speaking to us all the time. Just recently somebody called me, wanting me to help them out. I don't loan money, but if you need something and I decide that you're not going to keep coming back to ask for more, I'll just give it to you. This person was about to lose their house. And I said, "Okay, maybe."
Kate: A stranger?
Oprah: No, somebody who'd worked here a long time ago and who'd fallen on hard times. And then, in the middle of a conversation yesterday, that person's name came up in some other context—and that person's name hadn't come up in 15 years. That was the universe saying, "Go back to that thought and see what you can do."
Lisa Torain: Is there anything you can't do? Anything that's not attainable for you?
Oprah: I would like to have a little more balance. In the makeup room before coming out here, I was saying to Gayle that I think I've lost sight of my best life. The other day when I was cleaning out a drawer, I found an old gratitude journal and started looking through it, and at some point I just stopped and said, "God, I was so happy then." I was happy over little things: mango sorbet, and running, and the way my feet felt touching the ground when I ran. Back then, I didn't appreciate the time I got to spend with myself. Now I do—it's why I'm bringing the show to a close. My obligations have become my life.
Lisa: Would you ever consider paring way down? If you had to pare down to nothing, would it be okay?
Oprah: You mean give up my worldly possessions? I'm not crazy! No, no, no. But there are obligations I would pare back. I love everything that I do. I love it. But I keep saying yes to everything, and managing it all gets to be overwhelming. A typical day for me starts here with a 6:30 workout; by 7:30 I'm in the makeup chair. And then I don't usually get in the car to leave until 9, 10 o'clock at night. Get home just in time to breathe, get the damn puppy thing done—I don't know what I was thinking, getting a puppy—then go to bed, get up, and start the whole process all over again. It's too much. Today is lovely I get to sit and talk with you guys. This is a restful day. I had only one show to do today. Yesterday I did three. The day before, I did three. In between doing three, I'm trying to talk to South Africa, because the girls are taking their PSATs. So I'm doing school. I'm on the phone about the magazine. I'm doing a full-hour radio show. I'm doing everything that goes with starting a new television network. So it really was time to end the show.
Violet Harris: Are you going to act again?
Oprah: You know, I'm thinking about it. There's a part of me that says, "Don't take on another thing. But I love acting, because it's a vacation from myself. I get to suspend being myself and become somebody else.
Does Oprah regret never having experienced marriage or motherhood?
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