Years ago, maybe it was 1990, I was a university student in Chicago. One day some friends and I decided to ditch our classes and go downtown, west of Chicago’s Loop, to sit in on a screening of the Oprah Winfrey Show.
This was before Oprah became a household name worldwide. At that point I think she was just a local semi-celebrity. It was very easy to get show tickets. All one had to do at that point was stand outside the studio door, and when someone opened the door, go inside and take a seat.
I don’t remember what the show was about that day. Alien abductions of loved ones or something like that. After the show, almost all the audience members formed a line. One by one they stepped onto the stage to meet Oprah. There were lots of hugs, lots of kisses, even some tears. Oprah wasn’t famous nationally yet, but it was clear she had a way with people.
I got in line, too. When my time to meet Oprah came, I walked up to her and stretched out my hand to shake hers. Something in my brain clicked, and instead of shaking her hand, I tickled her palm and said some nonsense phrase like “doodle-oot-doo-doo!” Then I casually turned and walked up the stairs towards the studio exit.
Oprah, perhaps a bit surprised, called out after me, “What, what was that?! What, what did you just do?!” Midway to the exit door at that point, I turned to her, stuck out my arm, pointed at her, and clicked my tongue and winked. Then I turned back around and walked out the door.
Today is Thanksgiving in the USA. I know that we’re supposed to celebrate it by telling everyone how thankful we are for our family, for our friends, for our health. And believe me, I am thankful for those things.
But I’m also thankful that somewhere along the way I picked up, or perhaps just never lost, a spirit that sees 100 people in a room doing pretty much the same thing, and instead of saying to me, “You should do that too,” it says, “Society already has people filling that job, it needs you to do something else.”
Sometimes that spirit causes me to do small things like tickle Oprah’s hand, but sometimes that spirit causes me to do bigger things like walk across Turkey. Those bigger things end up enriching not only my own life, but, for various reasons, the lives of others.
Today is Thanksgiving in the USA, and for many things I am thankful, but for a spirit that shows me ways to enrich the lives of others I am perhaps most so.