Oprah: Right. A friend of mine says that perfection is a road, not a destination.
Bette: I'm not interested in perfection, though. The universe is perfect, and there are some works of art that we see as perfect, but human beings aren't perfect.
Oprah: Okay, but do you believe in a power greater than yourself?
Bette: You mean do I believe in God? Oh, I'm mad about God! That's why I'm divine. When I started saying "Oh, that's divine!" I had no earthly idea that it had anything to do with God. Then I started reading about divine inspiration and divine light—I'm from a generation of seekers, after all—and finally I realized, "Oh, my God, they're talking about me! I'm part of the cosmos—everyone is."
Oprah: The divine is in all things.
Bette: Absolutely. We're all divine, but I was the only one who had the nerve to call myself that. And I thought of it first. So there!
Oprah: Did people ever say about you, "Who does she think she is?"
Bette: No one has ever said that to me. I always take the piss out of the whole Divine Miss M thing by being funny about it. Humor disarms people. They don't feel threatened. If someone were to say seriously, "I'm divine," she'd have to be locked up. There are lots of people in mental institutions going around saying "I'm God." But because I'm funny about it, they haven't locked me up yet. And I don't give myself airs, either. There are people who come from the same background as I do who give themselves a lot of airs. In my business, you are so encouraged to do that, with people blowing smoke up your butt and yessing you to death. I've fought that for 35 years. When the pompousness bubbles up inside me, I stop it. Lately, because of television, I've really had to work at this. My audience had actually been quite small; now it's enormous, and I could feel that people were looking at me in a new way.
Oprah: Let's talk a little more about how you started to pay attention to your life, because that's what leads to a reinvention of yourself—being fully present and in the moment.
Bette: You have to be alert. When my daughter, Sophie, came out of the womb, she was instantly alert, as if she had been here before. And she was a little disappointed that she was here again.
Bette: The expression on her face was, like, "Not this again!"
Oprah: I love the fact that you've reared Sophie to be so independent.
Bette: She's very independent. But if she's upset about something, she will absolutely let me know. She's great—a real tough cookie.