From October 19, 2001 Oprah Winfrey Show: Oprah talks to Mattie Stepanek, an 11-year-old boy who, despite having muscular dystrophy, has written two New York Times best-selling inspirational books of poetry, Heartsongs and Journey Through Heartsongs. He aims to help create world peace. Mattie shares his poetry, describes what he calls “Heartsongs,” and details how he sees miracles every day. Oprah then talks with singer, author and motivational speaker Tom Sullivan about how it feels to be blind. Mattie, who later became one of Oprah’s most memorable guests passed away in 2004 at the age of 13.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey pack has listeners Some of you may know that Oprah began having conversations about the deeper meaning of life and the world around us. Even in the early days of the Oprah show. When you look inward, then you can begin to create another kind of pole, because we know you love Supersoul style discussion. I went we opened up the vault of the upper Winfrey shout to hand. Take episodes that will enhance the super, so pack has library ever experience in our lives is to teach us to learn to love. Please enjoy this past episode of the Oprah Winfrey show on supersede conversations. I have the privilege and the honor to meet for the first time. I got a little boy that I wanted to make for the moment I heard historians name is Mattie supported and I hear he's an extraordinary poorest
he's only eleven years old? I've spoken to him on the phone several times, but today is the first time we're actually meeting in person hears Maddie story. I want people, No! My life philosophy to remember to play after every storm Mattis, do Ponic an extraordinary eleven euro living through a difficult storm. He was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy he's feeling any unless you feel muscle it around. I need, my wheelchair. First I need thing Mattie's mom, Jenny also has the disease which he did not discover until after she had had children. Caning died when she was. Years. Old Stevie died at six months of age Jamie died when he was four years old, Mattie miraculously just turned eleven which nobody would have ever guest.
From a from a very young age, special, even special, even while tethered to oxygen, he earned a junior black belt arts, martial arts, and now he at the eleven TH grade level, but his real gift, is the poetry he writes. I have a song deep in my heart. I write to express my thoughts, my feelings. I want people to think I feel my poems are fine, but most of them are so that we can under stand: how we need to listen to our heart, songs and spread peace with each other. You hear the word heart songs, a lot in his portraits, your hearts song is your inner beauty. It's this song in your heart. That wants you to help, make yourself a better occur and to help other people do the same. Maddie is a very unique spirit. A lot of people would say, he's an old soul, he's spiritual and he
hopeful for something bigger than himself when I grow up. I not only want a peacemaker. I am so to be a other stuffed animals that I treat my children for a boy so full of life. He came very close to dying this year, Matisse and about five months and the intensive care. Unit at children's children's national medical center Dc Dc came so close to death. I saw in just coming greatly and having with his health failing and time running out, marries three. Lifelong wishes had had not yet been granted. I had always had, and they are one to have my book book. That I can spread my message of peace through the world two to talk, peace with my hero, Jimmy Carter and meet with Oprah win free Mattie got his first wish two books of poetry, published in the last
for months and with a phone call second wish came true. They picked up. The phone and hand it to me. It was Jimmy Carter, it was so either and I couldn't believe it. Mattie was very sick clinging to life, but he wanted to return to the comforts of home. The day before he came home from the hospital Mattie, and I prayed very, very hard and Maddie's prayer was that he was coming home to live and all the bleeding it just stopped. I call it a miracle. I really think I'm here for a bitch, because in my life I've had so many calls dying, even if it takes me one year or one thousand. I have to do it. I was meant to do
well Mattie's wish to share his magic on the Oprah. Show Toothey'Re here you made in here. Thank you so you're everything I imagine this is your first time flying coming here too right. Yes, it was, and what was that like for you, it was, is amazing, for me. I'm in IRAN, Thus we, when we had to go through this, its cloud we would, I saw, coming and I figured they would just. Go round on asylum, surrounded by white stuff. I felt like I was in this fluffy more
mellow this flooding marshmallow. That's that's my mom. However. She was a little anxious, write a letter a little plant, simply let's putting it simply yeah. Why? are you? How is your help? How are you doing I'm doing a better health applies. I'm doing very well excitement so I heard that a lot of grownups had tried to get you to let go of the three wishes, but you held on to them. Yes, because because the things that will last forever going to Disney world. And in a week having a shopping spree. Day, but being able to talk to Jimmy Carter, being able to have my books published being able to talk to you here today, less
forever. You are done for it. It is a sweet privilege, so you've been writing for try. Since you were how old about three I would go to my mom and who would be typing on the computer, either school or replaying, solitaire and arm, I would say Mommy: can you write them down from a plays and she went to shore and, I would say, tell her these poems and arm She would type them down for me and then, when I learned to write- and I also learned that I was making poetry yeah because you didn't even know- that's what you were doing. Yes, I would I was just expressing my feelings. I was just saying what felt like I needed to say I learned to write, so I wrote and dictated and now most of the time I
just to my computer and computer and type some poems, and so you started calling at heart songs, because what as the song in my heart, it was the message of my heart: a heart song doesn't have to be a song in your heart, even talking about love and peace. It can just be your message. It can be your feeling. Some people might even call it a conscience, even though that's not really what it is. It's your message. What you feel you need to do, and everybody has it everyone, no matter what it is. It's.
Still sing the same beautiful man such a peace and love, but people now are fighting over how our heart songs are different, but I don't need to be the same. Our heart tongues don't need to be the same because everybody has different ones. Yes and that's the beauty. We are a mosaic of gifts and Each of us has our inner beauty, no matter how we love, I mean you're, very real foreign, It's our energy, you know, I read your first book and now the second book journey through heart songs has come out and I have my own favorite poems. I ask you: where did where did these come from? Just they are my feelings and my life experiences. I mean, like I said when I was little out say: mommy. Can you
Take this up for me. They're your life experiences, Mr Ivan Euro, but you do I don't Think your wise beyond your years. Don't you? Yes, Yes, on September, eleven th after learning about the terrorist attack, Maddie wrote a poignant poem in Title nine, one one, two thousand and one. Let's listen to that. It was a dark day in America, There was no amazing grace. Freedom did not ring the attack sky high fiery, tear rain. Doctors collapse red with blood white with ash and out of the sky blue, as children trust elders cities, find faith and leaders, but all were blinded shot by the blasts undefined.
to outrage, undeniable outpouring of support, even prayer, or at least moment of silence. Church and state could not be separated a horrific of events to feel happy ending and the children sleep safely in their beds. Tonight. Can the citizens assured of national security. Again God, please bless America. And the rest of our earthly. I understand that this period of terrorism has been especially hard to use, and peace is so important to you. You see yourself in the world as a peacemaker. Yes, though, my poetry and my heart sank. And another sad thing is that allow the firefighters who are still missing, I know
The M yea association- we were good friends and right before the tragedy aben, I had been a wonder for we can that assault autonomy with of the New York fire fighters, help thing to raise money through him from the egg and celebrate lie you actually new people who were in the hills- and am I was very devil stated. I was scared. I dont know what to do, but you know I know you believe something I believe by just wrote in one of my colleagues that this month that you lose somebody, you love, you gain an angel, you know, and I know you believe that too, because you think you're your brothers and sisters are your angels. Yes, I'm not sure exact made my guardian angel S by now that my guardian
Angel Smee very much. I also know that Saint George, Rita and brother brother on dry really brought some calls on need them, and my brothers and sister Dreamy, Katy and Stevie take very good care of me return, I visit the cemetery where they're buried and I always re stock little can of toys. I leave there you too, and I give them balloons set in the tape that, when everyone thought that you were really going to pass on over to the other country, that you were a goner lot of people thought you were said that you saw the angels coming coming, for you did you yes, added that feel like it was
Beauty beyond imagination and a script sin when I will go up. The first thing I said was: don't forget, don't believe in the Christmas trees. Angels are so much more beautiful than that. Let's listen to another one of Matty's points. This one is called when I die. Why did you write this point because I wrote many of them and there are my different thoughts on dying and what I would like to happen to me after I do reach that Ok, here's maddest point. When I die when I die, I want to be a child in Heaven. I want to be in touch. Your own cherub. I want be a hero in Heaven and a peacemaker. Just like my goal honour. I will ask if I can help the people in purgatory. I will help them think about their night, about their spirits
Their future, I will help them here. There aren't songs again, so it can finally see the face was gone so soon when I die, I want to be just like- I want to be here on earth a champion is a win, a hero, someone who never gives up even when the going gets rough a champion is a member of a winning team someone who overcomes challenges even when it requires. Any solution. been as an optimist, hope for someone who case the game even when the game is called life, especially when the game is called life.
There can be a champion in nature if we live as a winner. If we live member of the team. If we live with the hopeful spirit for life, I'm talking to my new friend poet and peacemaker made to panic. If ever I had a book to recommend it's maddies journey through hearts, by east upon it. You did all they could have been ever you were going to buy a book. I recommended this is the one my friends I got to meet each other for the first time after heard, one of his three big wishes in life was spread his message of peace the Oprah show and any shares that message. Of course, in this new book of poetry, journey through heart, songs he's been writing poetry, since he was three years old.
I hear the point we just heard on being a champion is one of your favorites because it describes what a chump began really is a temp ban does not mean you have to come home with a big Gordon troll fan. Make everyone now attempt in is your strength and side of you, and it is what really happy, and do you not just a material thing attempt in what you feel and sighed out for TAT made these days. Allow PETE why measures turbulent there, I still believe that a temp in is the inner strength. You are very wise. Very wise is Matty's mom. You realize that you had muscular dystrophy until after all, four of your children have been point correct. I,
very athletic and running fund. Also, ran five miles a day and I had four children between nine, Eighty five and nineteen ninety nine and a four and a half year spam and they all just kept getting sick, her and sector, and I was very tired and a lot of pain but assumed that was the stress of having sex such sick children. Just mental stress of going through in the stress of their care, and when I was diagnosed with the adult form of muscular dystrophy, which is more muscular, it's muscle impairment. They went back and- act, my children to have the had already died, but Mary and his brother Jamie were still alive and they were tested and diagnosed with the infant onset, which is normal. equally devastating and usually are always, except for in his case fatal during early childhood. So have you
blame that you're still here between what keeps me going as one my poet tree Hap by expressing my feelings and then the upper turning to share it with dollars is just such a gift to make gives me a really good reason to keep going. Another thing is how people help me so at like my mom, my friends, my my dreams and another room In fact, three of it of why I'm here today talking to you, is the prayer. Far as I hear that Matty was so close to that Jenny. That doctor suggested you celebrate his birthday early, but you refused to do that. Yes, I refused, because I thought, if I
did move it up a month. It would give a message to him that it was okay to die and that if he lived then to re, celebrate his birthday which have enjoyed but we held off and they did everything they could medically and children's, and they say to save him and they worked on treating him spiritually and emotionally to try and keep them going author cause. Do you ever get you get down? Sometimes yes at, but usually all rights and poetry. I talk to my mom about it. I'll get through the lifestyle now saw brain you will. You know one of my favorite Sousa the prayer for journey that you right at the beginning of the book
do you say thank you, God not just for life, but for our journey through life, life is a miracle and a journey through life is so full of so many more miracles if we travel with our heart songs. Thank you, God for blessing me with the gift of heart songs, so that I can enjoy my miracles. You know, I think that's so important, especially with that one thousand nine hundred and ninety eight. I think that's especially now when everybody is feeling a sense of fear and having terrorize to look at what you have in your life and have a sense of gratitude and see the miracles in your life and you, although you're hooked up to all this equipment, you still see miracles in your life every day, yes like getting through another day and being able to have all kinds of things happen each day. Even if the only thing that happened is my home school work, it's a mirror. Well, yes, it's a mirror called. I get to do that because
and I couldn't do it if I was in Heaven in a way- that's good, but in other ways that's better. Well, I hear that you have a really big rock election with stones and rocks from all over the world. Is that true? Yes, I have rots from all over the place. I even have rots from. Castles in Germany in Ireland and a piece of the Berlin Wall, Most recent rock was a Rab. I just picked up here in Chicago yeah I thought. I heard that when you found out, you were coming to the show that you wanted some Chicago and Open rock, so I got some for you. One says peace. Thank you, the peace rock this for you another one says says, wish and then another one says Mattie at all:
for you another one said: oh Bristol, you remember me there you go and this one says Hutson Roxy rocks for you. Thank you see. You are a peacemaker. You know what you are a peacemaker. I think everybody who's heard you today and heard your points because isn't that what you wanted to do was to spread the message of your points. Yes, as felt just a little quiet, sigh of peace, You feel better, so you and Matt it's just you and made in the house taking care of each other yeah. We live in a basement of somebody else's house, it's a wonderful family that lives upstairs and they're like KEN family to us, but in our apartment, it's
This body of myself, so just getting through the day, washing dishes and doing regular stuff is it's not. What people think it is you have to plan everything getting into a shower, through a doorway, just getting him out of bed. Most people get out of bed, it there's all kinds of things you have to do just to get him out of bed medically and physically Will you must be proud of your boy? I am so proud of you boy, I'm proud of you too. Thank you so much Okay, I hope people by the eyes for looking at things, but they are also for crying We are very happy are very sad. Our ear for listening, but our hearts Our noses are for smelling food, but also the wind and the grass And if we try very hard butterflies, our are for feeling, but also for
and touching her gently out and tongue for tasting, but we're saying words like I love you and thank you, God for all these things. Well, our next guest is here to answer the question: how does it feel to be blind? Tom Sullivan has never known what it feels like to see. Here's Tom's story or part of it, Brown prematurely Tom Sullivan spent his first weeks in an incubator where he was given too much oxygen and saved his life. It cost him his eyesight being blind, never stop Tom from pursuing his dreams, whether he is key. On snow or water competing in or white water, rafting there's, there's nothing won't. Try. Try he's even
bungee jumping. And over the years Tom has jumped into many jobs from acting and singing to writing. Books reporting the news Florence, ITALY Tom says he had an awakening when he was allowed to the great statues of Michael Angelo, and for the first time he says he felt like he could see. Tat. In the statue of David was one of the most astonishing experiences for you. David was, but I also had the amazing experience of touching really his first work, the back us and in the process Oprah. I found myself realizing that for the first time I could see that I understood the sculptor better than anyone else, because I could read the new ones that his hands placed on a face, muscle tone tissue
slant of an eyebrow, the arch of a chin, the new wants of a smile, the body texture. All those things that I thought were denied to me became real I've enjoyed four out of five senses on levels that are unbelievable. Ok, you know, you're you're levels are higher, definitely higher than ours. The wonder of this is that their exercise tyre they're not higher, but I have The development and clear has a clear example of what I mean: I'm a runner. You know that, and I run on the beach in California. There are fifteen different kinds of waves that you can hear coming in on the beach, depending on the day. There are eleven different textures of sand, we'll sure there are over six
kinds of birds that I hear and the smells combined things like Lilac, an orange blossoming and weed and kelp and breakfast cooking up on the cliff above the beach or run all that stuff is pouring in in a sensor, experience that beyond measure. So how in in under any terms. How can this guy Tom Sullivan think that he got cheated I'm finding levels of life, acceptance and life celebration that go far beyond things. That seems surface and either you can measure beauty in a voice and that smiles and frowns also have sounds. Your smile is your greatest thing. You smile huge. I mean
while huge, and you can hear the sibilant sound of a smile. The S sounds. The h sounds of a smile happen. I was speaking in a school, the other day and kids had questions, and they just before that the question they go, I love it. It's the ultimate sound of call on me yeah. The other thing is along with the question of ugly. I don't live in a system of labels. I mean, as an example, I know that I'm blind- and I know that german african American, but both of us I told you I ve been tricked you out. So you made a decision though,
you were not going to be labeled that you're going to live life on the field. I know when it happened. You know, when did it have two moments, in my backyard now my parents had built a fence around it. How old were you eight? Their assumption was that they had to keep the world outside and keep me safe inside and down the street from the house. There was a baseball field and I could hear the sound of the game. You know the ball popping into people's gloves and kids hitting it. And I wanted desperately to play it. So I picked up a stick into rock and I remember this and every time I'd hear a little boy hit the baseball. I would hit my rock with my stick and a kid came by my fence on his way home and he looked through the wire and he said: what's the matter kit you blind, and then he started that chant binding, find that chant. That said, he saw me as different and I throw rocks
and missed. I mean I hated him in that moment, but two weeks later I was in my yard- and I heard two little boys move into the house next door Billy and my cannon they're still my special friends and I thought okay, I am getting out and this fence was about eight feet high and I climbed to the top and remember thinking what now, what now? What now- and I thought Hell Jump, so I leaped out into space and I crashed on the ground and knocked the window to myself and the little boy. Billy Hannan saw it He came running already said what he said it was a gnarly fall Yeah. He said: what's your name, I said I'm Tom Sullivan and I'm
anyway, wow and then Oprah. This child said the three most important words I've ever heard, and this is from Maddie. This little boy made said want to play want to play and I've kept the games going all through life. That's fabulous! Thank you! Tom Celeron. Thank you so much that I'm denied Tom Sullivan, thank you for being here today. Thank you, so much Tom. Thank you so much. Thank you! I'm Oprah, Winfrey and been listening to super, so conversations the podcast you can follow.
Recital on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. If you haven't yet go to apple podcast and subscribe rate and review this podcast join me for another supersede conversation. Thank you for listening You know what this is a commercial right and you know what that means time for snack wrong. I want you to do some heart healthy exercise. Yes, you try some seated leg extensions right now, just lift each leg up and extend it straight one. At a time six to eight times. I can do that. Yes, you can remember. Every commercial is a chance to sneak in heart, healthy activity, visit, find exercise anywhere com and speak with your doctor to learn more about the risks of heart failure
Transcript generated on 2020-11-18.