The world is mourning the loss of Maya Angelou today. The literary world has lost a giant. Women everwhere have lost an important voice. She inspired so many, and her work transcended race, culture, ethnicity, and time. I still remember first reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and being incredibly moved. The book, which is autobiographical, follows her out of the deep south and to St Louis, where at a very young age she is sexually assaulted by an older man. This was a painful experience, and something that shaped the artist she became. She eventually makes her way to San Francisco, where her soul begins to heal. First published in 1969, she spoke of healing to so many who had experienced abuse. Yet, it’s so much more than that, it’s about healing and overcoming the pain.
Poet, writer, visionary, nobel laureate, Maya Angelou will be missed. She lived through, and was shaped by, the Civil Rights movement. She led an incredible life, and inspired so many. Particularly women like her, who had seemingly suffered so much, but was able to blossom, and express herself so beautifully. The title for Caged Bird is a metaphor for this experience. My heart is heavy, but I know hers was a life lived well.
“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. 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.”