The Oprah Experience

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The Mantra That Kept Diana Nyad Swimming

The interior, emotional aftermath of my swim from Cuba to Florida is what stands out, what means something significant to my life.

But of all the more superficial moments of recognition I have humbly received since that Labor Day walk up onto the sands of Key West five weeks ago, two stand out glaringly. One is an invitation to the White House to meet President Obama. The other is an invitation to sit down and be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey.

Or, frankly, is the order of those two honors the other way around?

Like millions of you, I have long respected Oprah. It’s not even that I was a big fan of her daily talk show. I admit I wasn’t a regular viewer. But to witness one individual bring reading back to middle America, to stand up for women mired in such dire straits issues as domestic violence, to lead our entire population in so many areas of human rights……yes, indeed, I have been on the Oprah respect band wagon all the way along.

So, in case you don’t already follow, Oprah does an inspiring hour-long interview every Sunday morning on her OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) called Super Soul Sunday. She sits with a variety of individuals, all living life out loud, living lives with meaning.

I was invited. We did the interview last week. Part One aired this Sunday. Part Two is slated for next Sunday, Oct. 13.

The flat-out truth is that, at the end of 90 minutes, I wouldn’t have cared if the cameras had not rolled. This is the finest interviewer working today. No diva here.

This is a woman enraptured in the moment, engaged in every syllable. There is no wandering mind, no eye slipping over to the teleprompter. She lets you know that you are two equals, curious about the ways of the human spirit, thirsty to discover….together….some new insight as to how to better live these cherished lives of ours.

The flat-out truth is that, at the end of 90 minutes, I wouldn’t have cared if the cameras had not rolled. This is the finest interviewer working today. No diva here.

This is a woman enraptured in the moment, engaged in every syllable. There is no wandering mind, no eye slipping over to the teleprompter. She lets you know that you are two equals, curious about the ways of the human spirit, thirsty to discover….together….some new insight as to how to better live these cherished lives of ours.

You feel a bit of an idiot complimenting Oprah. You don’t want to fawn. For instance, I wanted to praise her for her work in The Butler. How could a public icon this renowned make us the film viewers completely forget that she is OPRAH as she plays out the dutiful housefrau of the White House butler over several generations? Her role in that film is nothing short of astounding. But, as I say, I felt somewhat awkward dishing out my own review of her performance.

But I have no problem declaring today, after both sitting with Oprah for those 90 minutes and now having seen Part One of our interview, that the Oprah experience was one of the grandest of my life. As is her habit on the show, she walked down the hall to greet me in my dressing room and then we walked arm and arm together to the set. No ego, no false humor. This woman is as real as it gets.

I have had the privilege of being interviewed by most of the greats over the past 40 or so years. I always thought of Johnny Carson as the class standard, the most in-the-moment of them all. But, with all due respect and fond memories of Johnny, Oprah is the zenith.

You enter a magical world of calm intensity in her presence. There is nothing else. Nobody else. There is no pretending. No impressing. She cried at some of my stories. She was intent on soaking up everything I was feeling. We traveled together for those 90 minutes and the journey was bountiful.

It wasn’t about Social Media power. Wasn’t about audience reach. It was about life. As is the show, Super Soul Sunday, about life.  And what a life we’re living. ALL OF US.

See Part 1 of the interview in it’s entirety at http://www.oprah.com/own-super-soul-sunday/Full-Episode-Oprah-and-Diana-Nyad-Part-1-Video