What I Know For Sure, by Oprah Winfrey, is a must-listen. This is a book to enjoy today and revisit every few years. That’s my plan. Readers of O, The Oprah Magazine, will recognize the title—each issue ends with Oprah’s column, aptly named “What I Know For Sure.”
I came to this book as a listener first. At just under four hours, it’s a short audiobook, masterfully narrated by Oprah herself. As soon as I finished listening, I bought a copy of the book, intending to give it as a Christmas gift. As it happens, I wasn’t able to part with it. I’ll be purchasing at least 3 more copies, for my mom and younger sisters. My friends at Findaway need this book too, so I should probably buy 4 copies, and keep one propped up on my desk.
What I Know For Sure is broken into 9 chapters, organized by theme: Joy, Resilience, Connection, Gratitude, Possibility, Awe, Clarity, and Power. Part way through I realized each chapter began with a quote. The quote that keeps rolling through my mind is from Resilience. “Barn’s burnt down / Now I can see the moon.”—Mizuta Masahide (seventeenth-century Japanese poet)
Here’s how Oprah introduces What I Know For Sure: “As you read about all the lessons I’ve struggled with, cried over, run from, circled back to, made peace with, laughed about, and at long last came to know for sure, my hope is that you’ll begin to ask yourself the very same question… I know that what you’ll find along the way will be fantastic, because what you’ll find will be yourself.”
The chapter devoted to gratitude begins with an essay on keeping a gratitude journal. Journaling is not a new practice for me. I have 35 years of journals hidden away in my bedroom. Writing has gotten me through many a day, but after so many years, it does get tiring to write about my life, my family, my marriage, my friendships, my struggles, my questions. I started a brand new gratitude journal in November and it’s been lovely to just jot down a few grateful thoughts or moments every few days.
My entries look like this:
– It snowed overnight. Heavy, wet snow that clung to each tree branch. I got out of the house in time to drop a boy and his snowboard off at school, and was heading to work. 5 minutes from the office…but… I needed to be outside, walking in the snow. Work could wait a few more minutes. That walk fed my soul and I offered up thanks to God for making such a beautiful world…among other things.
–Mom dropped off homemade eggplant parm for lunch, and surprised me with fresh fruit. Pineapple, blackberries, strawberries—an unexpected treat.
–Life is good. I am blessed. (I almost always end with these thoughts)
Listening to Oprah was like getting a dose of wisdom every 3 minutes. An infusion of joy and clarity, mixed up with gratitude, resilience, awe and possibility. Who doesn’t need more of all that? I invite you to listen to What I Know For Sure. I’d love to know what spoke to you.