Four Hands Clasping vs. One Hand Clapping: Oprah and Stedman Connect

Interpersonal neurobiology is fascinating to me these days.  I wrote a few days ago about Curt Thompson’s amazing book, Anatomy of the Soul (which cites Daniel Siegel’s work in this field) and about empathy (and how connecting to others’ stories in fiction or in reality affects us deeply).  And I wrote a few days ago about the desire, when we are happy or joyful or excited, to connect with someone else to consummate that joy (as evidenced in the Super Bowl victory celebrations).

And then I came across a visible example of connectedness.  On YouTube, I found a clip of Oprah Winfrey and her long-time companion, Stedman Graham, at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony in 2010.  When Jennifer Hudson sang “I’m Here” (a song I love) from Winfrey’s production of The Color Purple, Oprah visibly reacted to the music, and her body language alone initiated a connection to Stedman, who was seated behind her and could not see her face.

Their connection was beautiful to watch.  Watch it!

It was comforting to watch in much the same way that people calm down when a baby who has been fussing finally finds its mother and relaxes.  I felt, with Oprah, relief that her emotions (which were admittedly only ones that I could guess at, or imagine) were understood, as evidenced by Stedman joining her (and sticking with her) throughout what had to have been a powerful experience of having her own vulnerable moment in the spotlight.

Yes, I know Oprah is always in the spotlight… but it takes a lot more panache to sit with being delighted in than it does to simply be in control.

It may be more blessed to give than to receive, but it is more vulnerable to receive than to give.

Oprah needed a partner on this one.

Now if I read another rumor about their relationship being fake, I’m just not going to spend a lot of time worrying about it (gotta admit I wasn’t worrying anyway about Oprah’s life).  This woman has a man who is there for her.

And beyond the academic considerations of interpersonal neurobiology (which are fascinating), empathy is alive and well at the Kennedy Center Honors.

~ by Cary on February 11, 2011.

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