ORIGINALLY WRITTEN SHELLEY PLETT
“When we seek for connection, we restore the world to wholeness. Our seemingly separate lives become meaningful as we discover how truly necessary we are to each other.”
I don’t want to obsess over Oprah Winfrey. I don’t want to be the one who always enters the room saying “Did you see Oprah yesterday? You won’t believe…blah, blah,” and feels the need to quote her on a daily basis. So if you would, indulge my single Oprah flashback just for today.
One of the shows highlighted on her 20th anniversary DVD is about a man who lost a lot of weight. He had a lifelong dream of being thin enough to simply fit inside his favorite model sports car. So Oprah brought one of those cars into her studio, let him sit in it, and after he slipped easily inside the tiny car, she announced it was all his.
As far as Oprah shows go, it wasn’t ground breaking. Someone had a big problem, overcame it, became enlightened, and she bought them something expensive. Everyone was better for meeting Oprah.
What stuck with me was how they both described the moment she gave him the car. In the midst of the confetti, clapping, screaming and crying, there was an instant when they exchanged a look.
Oprah called it an unspoken connection, an intense second when they were linked at the most human level. They both said that right then and there, they completely understood each other.
A rare phenomenon really. I have to wonder if many people ever have a moment like that, with anyone.
So wouldn’t the less dramatic connections be as important? Who doesn’t want to feel there is one person out there who “gets” them, even if it’s just for a minute? The need to be understood is human. Babies need it from day one, adolescents struggle for it, and adults search for it, admittedly or not.
Addicts have support groups. Codependents of addicts have support groups. People with diseases have support groups. Mothers, fathers, divorcees, firefighters, writers, teachers, counselors. Whatever the call, situation, struggle, hobby, or occupation, they need to be around people who can relate to whatever it is they go through, to be validated. They need more than sympathy-they need empathy.
Let’s not forget about support for the lesser evils. Like the book fanatics. Oh, and have you heard? Books are dying. Or so I read.
One report claims in 1982, 96 million people in the U.S. read at least one book during that year. The number was the same in 2002. Thing is, during those 20 years, the U.S. population increased by 40 million. So, as those numbers go, a smaller percentage of people read literature.
That hurts. I like books. Probably a little too much – browsing them, buying them, and flipping through them. I read them, too. As fast and as many as possible. I hate to think that fewer and fewer kids see their parent wrap up in a blanket on the recliner with a paperback, showing them that it really is time well spent.
Luckily, there are support groups for us. They’re called book clubs and are proving to be a reliable source for empathy.
My book club is fairly new and might be considered small. (We prefer elite.) But it’s a perfect example of connecting. A few people who give each other a place to get together and live through a book once in awhile.
If you belong to any group because of desire, not obligation, you can begin to understand. If you have ever started explaining your favorite part of a book and someone cut you off with “I know!” before you finish your sentence, then you’re one of us and you get it. (You should join a book club.)
While the number of readers is supposedly down, book sales are said to be steady. And what types of books have shown the highest sales increase during the past few years? Spiritual, self-help and personal experience (like the Chicken Soup books).
And what is the common theme with these books? They help people connect-with something.
There has been a lot of talk about book clubs for the past few years. There are even books about book clubs. You can be sure these groups have helped authors stay in the news and are the reason for a load of book sales.
I’m not sure who’s compiling all of these statistics about how illiterate America is becoming.
Guess I’ll read all the details when the book comes out.