January 11, 2013

The interview Moment that changed Oprah’s Life (and mine).

She’d done hundreds of interviews. Perhaps 1000s. One word changed Oprah for good.

Rudine’s “How.”

Saying “do this” is too easy. Facile. Offer “how.”

I do a little talk show. Sometimes it gets big, when it’s consistent, but I’m busy running a business and it’s hard to do. Right now we’re looking for an “anal,” organized, fun, workaholic coordinator, you can be anywhere as long as you’re willing to fly about. Email us if qualified or so awesome and non-flakey that you will just create awesomeness. If you can’t find the email, you’re not (an) awesome (fit).

Anyways, as part of my talk show education (I’ve done some 400 interviews over the years with folks including Deepak Chopra, Dr. Weil, Bill McKibben, Gov. Howard Dean, Gov. Hickenlooper, Byron Katie, Robert Thurman, Sakyong Mipham, Sister Helen Prejean, Paul Hawken, Alice Walker, the whole list is here) I put in some time renting DVDs of great talk shows and really anyone—Dino, Sinatra—who knew how to hold a stage.

I’m not an Oprah fan, particularly, but she’s one of the best ever, so I rented her Best Of collection. And there’s a moment in it where she talks about learning the key to life, and good interviews.

She interviewed a young lady suffering from anorexia many times over the years. Finaly, the lady died of her disease. Incredibly sad. The last time Oprah interviewed her, the young lady said “I know I’m supposed to eat more, but how?!” In a pleading, desperate, desperately sad voice.

And Oprah said of that moment: I learn the key it’s to tell folks stuff. But to show them how. We all know the right thing to do: say, make money while doing good in the world at the same time. But the question is, always, how?!

And so, to this day, whenever I see New Agey quotes saying “Love more,” or whatever, I shake my head. We all know love is good stuff. But how?

How is the key. How is the journey. How is the path we must walk.

Offer how.

So next time you see a soundbited quote out of context by the Dalai Lama (etc), remember that Buddhists, and all genuine spiritual traditions (and good parents), are about the path—how to get from here to there—not just about yelling at us to “Be Blissful!” “Love is the Way!” “Peace is the Answer!” and other how-less facile useless feelgoodisms.

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Martha Sep 2, 2014 2:56pm

one day at the time.

Nicola Goddard May 25, 2014 2:53am

I was gifted the DVD collection, I know the very moment and I must say it impacted me too. Many of us know exactly what we should do to move forward with certain issues in our lives and we have all the necessary knowledg, but most people's big question is 'HOW?'.

Ramesh Jan 24, 2014 6:46am

How? By giving permission for the frustration to the unsatisfied how to exist. By finding out who needs to gain from this satisfaction, by giving permission to endless cycle of questioning and analyzing and hoping for an answer, by giving permission to accept that there is doubt, that there is no answer … that we, nor anyone else can provide a satisfactory, by giving permission for release to arise when it happens, by giving permission to let pleasant feelings last as long as they do …

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Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.