Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Night at the Oprah

So, here I am, about to go to bed in LA. It’s 12.39am but, as I flew in from New York last night, I am on Eastern time, which means it’s 3.39am.
I had a busy day and also managed to update my blog, so was feeling very content, just relaxing with a glass of wine before another hectic day tomorrow.
And then: just as I was about to turn off my computer, there’s flamin’ Oprah Winfrey on my screen, asking “Are you happy, Jacqueline?”

Oprah is, arguably, the world's best known entertainer. She has her own magazine and now hosts her own TV station, OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), too, so why would I not listen and take on board everything she has to say, now that her entertainment tentacles are reaching out to every area of our troubled lives?
Okay, I signed up to the meditation course a while back, but geez, Oprah, that was ages ago. Now, I’m just knackered, but you’ve set my brain racing again, pondering the nature of happiness, so I’m a darn sight less happy than I was two minutes ago before you popped up asking me unanswerable questions.
The question I want to ask you, Oprah, is: are YOU happy? I mean, I know you have money and a TV station and a magazine etc. etc. but you’d still trade it all in just to be very, very thin, right? Or maybe I’ve been misreading the subtext in everything you have ever said and done.
Anyway, so up pops Oprah with Deepak Chopra, a man I hugely admire, having read all his books and signed up to Transcendental Meditation some years ago, because he told me to (they see me coming a mile off, these gurus). It was a very positive experience, apart from the fact that it nearly got me killed.
The TM initiation ceremony required participants to take along a few flowers and a clean handkerchief. If you have ever tried buying a handkerchief at 10am in London’s Oxford Street, here’s a bit of advice: Don’t go there. In a rush to make my life-will-be-peaceful-for-evermore session, I all but assassinated the queue ahead of me in Marks and Spencer, just to get a six inch square piece of linen. Then I was nearly mown down by a black cab while running for my meditation.
Anyway, last year Deepak teemed up with Oprah to do some online meditations and, as they were free, I signed up. Well, I say free, which is technically correct; but, when you start clicking, it turns out that meditation number one (the free one) is as nothing compared to all the others, for which you have to pay. A lot.
So, I’ve been very suspicious, although stayed signed up, but now Oprah is really starting to bug me. “You were born to be happy!” she and Deepak beam from tonight’s missive. No shit, Sherlock. You mean I didn’t emerge from the womb with a razor blade in hand, just waiting for my first wrist-slashing sessions from the local depressive?
The latest series of meditations is offering to “Expand your happiness” over a 21 day meditation experience, and comes with several endorsements from happy clients. I’d be more impressed if Deepak looked even remotely happy in the promo pic. But Oprah is there, looking like a young Diana Ross, while Deepak looks like a young Einstein with an unconvincing hair weave. Or Joe 90. I haven’t quite made up my mind.
Anyway, the point is: I now can’t go to sleep because I am contemplating the nature of happiness. I consider myself a fairly happy person most of the time, but, like most people, have my moments of sadness. Most people probably think I am an open book, but the reality is, that although I wear my heart on my sleeve, I keep my soul well hidden. Maybe that’s true of most of us. There is a Woody Allen film (I can’t recall which one) in which the voiceover at the start says something along the lines of once you realise you can never really know another person, life is easier. I believe that. It’s probably why I don’t have a partner: because in the not knowing lies distrust.
You see what’s happened? I’ve had a perfectly pleasant day, and now Oprah and Deepak have got me all sad and depressed by asking me whether I’m happy, which I was until they bounced up on my computer screen.
And so, Oprah, I’m not going to “Register Now” for your 21 days of happiness depressive meditation, nor am I going to invite my friends to join in what seems might turn into a collective online suicide watch.
I’m going to upload this blog, go to bed and turn off my computer, praying that before I do so someone else doesn’t pounce on my late night insecurities and set me off on another philosophical contemplation to keep me from sleep.
In the meantime, are YOU happy, Oprah? Because, you know, honey? I still don’t think you are. 

Now you try sleeping on that. 

Sweet dreams.


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