Photo: George Burns
Teaching is my true calling. I have felt inklings of this truth since I was a little barefooted girl in Mississippi trying to get my rowdy boy cousins Willie Mack and Lonnie to spell Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego correctly. They weren't very amenable. But I was persistent. Every chance I got to play teacher, I took.
After almost 25 years of talking on TV every day, my most profound and meaningful memories are of people getting to see the light in themselves and having an aha moment. Over the years, all my teaching on the show has taught me. I've been strengthened by the sharing of it. And I know for sure as I move into the next chapter of my life and career: Teaching will hold an even greater place. It's what I'm called to do.
We're all called. If you're here breathing, you have a contribution to make to our human community. The real work of your life is to figure out your function—your part in the whole—as soon as possible, and then get about the business of fulfilling it as only you can.
As part of my morning ritual of meditation and prayer, I read Mark Nepo's Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have. Today's lesson, as is often the case, was so spot-on that I have to share it.
Nepo speaks of "my struggles as a teenager when my mother wanted me to be a lawyer and my father wanted me to be an architect. Somehow I knew I needed to be a poet; something in it brought me alive."
He quotes Mechthild of Magdeburg, a medieval mystic: "A fish cannot drown in water. A bird does not fall in air. Each creature God made must live in its own true nature."
And he offers these observations of his own: "Part of the blessing and challenge of being human is that we must discover our own true God-given nature. This is not some noble, abstract quest but an inner necessity. For only by living in our own element can we thrive without anxiety. And since human beings are the only life form that can drown and still go to work, the only species that can fall from the sky and still fold laundry, it is imperative that we find that vital element that brings us alive... the true vitality that waits beneath all occupations for us to tap into, if we can discover what we love. If you feel energy and excitement and a sense that life is happening for the first time, you are probably near your God-given nature. Joy in what we do is not an added feature; it is a sign of deep health."
What I know for sure: There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It's why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.
"We're all called. If you're here breathing, you have a contribution to make."
Find Your Calling
From the November 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!