The written word is so powerful, and somehow it expresses the inner feelings of individuals in the most descriptive way. This is true in song lyrics, novels, love letters, and especially poems. And what better poet than Maya Angelou, to express the joys and sorrows of the life lessons she learned throughout her time on earth. At age 86, that time ended today far too soon for the generations who could have immensely grown from the morals she had to teach, but her words will live on forever. She was not immortal, but her writing is.
Angelou breathe’s the breathe of every scared young girl in the world who thinks positively about getting out of a situation that is suppressing her dreams and clipping her wings. Angelou walks the steps of every woman fighting to keep her family afloat, and her faith strong, even when she feels as though she can’t go on. Angelou is a powerful figure for women all around the globe, and her words paint her into a powerful statue of hope and strength every time they are read.
Not only did Maya Angelou inspire the world through her poetry, but through her books of essays and autobiographies where she feared nothing, and left no detail astray, when bravely sharing her life with the always-judging world around her.
I have a saying that I actually put into one of my songs for my new album coming out this year…
“People are just jealous fools until the going gets bad.”
This may seem so cynical, and I promise you I am far from that, but when you think about the things you go through in life, more people come out of the woodwork in hardship than they do during celebratory times, and the cold hard truth is that people feed in drama. It took me a really long time to learn this lesson, but once I did, so many situations that I faced in my young adult life made so much sense.
Angelou didn’t care about this. She knew that by sharing her story with the world, the negative attributes of her life would forever be associated with her, but she turned the tables and stood as a positive figure for those currently going through the situations she so eloquently rose above.
But I know why the “Caged Bird” wrote. I know why Angelou shared her stories, emotions, and feelings with the world, or at least I think I do.
As someone who loves to write, even if it’s just about a song or an album, I get such a natural high after I post something that flows from my heart through my fingertips. It’s almost like any pang of sadness or hardship just dissipates because my mind is now on paper (or on a computer screen). The bottom line is that everything is out of my body, off my chest, and on the page. What better way for someone like Angelou who had such an amazing life story, but so many problems in her early life, to get her sorrow off of her chest and her story to the world?
Maya Angelou spoke at Syracuse University in 2004 with these words of wisdom,
“You can see in others what they don’t see in themselves and what the world doesn’t see in them,” she told Syracuse a decade ago. “We all have that possibility, that potential and that promise of seeing beyond the seeming.”
This one quote shows her strength, forgiveness, truth, and belief in human beings, that proves her faith and forgiveness was stronger than any trial or tribulation in her life.
This is a quote that, although the lyric I wrote and posted above seems to contradict, I truly live by. I see the best in people, sometimes to a fault, and I think it’s because I realize that every single person, even someone who is means and cruel on the outside, was a child at one time. A child belongs to someone; a child is innocent, humble, and free. If everyone was once that carefree child, then something happened to make them the bitter person they are today. Some people can’t deal with pain and hardship the way Angelou did. Some people have a hard time of taking that negative and making it a positive, and that shouldn’t be held against them. Maya Angelou however, should be praised for her poise, powerful messages, and personal goals that she fulfilled around every bend on her road of life. No one was as giving with their words as she, and she will forever be remembered in that light. As she once said,
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
Angelou wasn’t giving to the point of no end however, and her one very famous quote that I’m sure we’ve all seen at one time or another, as it seems to be the go-to Facebook status for a broken-hearted high school girl…
“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
And because Maya Angelou’s love for music was just as strong as her charisma to rise to the success her grandmother knew she capable of in her life, her I must end my tribute to her with this…
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
I won’t say that if you aren’t a fan of Maya Angelou you should be, because really, who isn’t a fan of this beautiful woman and her powerful use of the English language to change lives with her melodic thoughts? I will say that if you don’t know much of her work, you should take the time to read more and become inspired by her words. It is a sad thing in life that people tend to be heard more when they have passed away then when they are on earth. It’s like their words ring more true from another world than they do when they are walking ours. I don’t think it has to do with respect or acknowledgement, but more so the fact that people feel as though when someone has lived an entire life to the very end, their words are somehow more true? I don’t think that was ever the case with Maya Angelou, as readers of every age, race, and gender, were relating to her work from the moment it was published and she was recognized countless times for her powerful gift and craft.
I know why the “Caged Bird” wrote, so that instead of being a spectator in the game of life, she could be a guide. A light in the vast sea of people for that one lost soul to follow until they find their home. Her words are as strong as her character, her thoughts as graceful as her demeanor, and her memory will be as present as her role in the lives of those who she’s inspired.
R.I.P Maya Angelou
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”