I met Maya in my thirties when I read “I know why the caged bird sings”. Her experience was not familiar to me and didn’t seem to touch my life.
I never caught up with her but I grew because of her.
I came to understand the human experience and through the years I bonded with her, her books, her words, her attitudes and her way of being. She became one of my guiding lights in how to recognize the best and the worst in myself and to try to be at peace with both.
Maya Angelou’s many quotes and pithy insights into life helped me gain insights into my own. And so what would I choose her most meaningful words? It’s impossible to know. She seemed to pop into my life from screen and printed page at moments when I was unaware that I needed a wake-up call.
Of course, when I learned that Maya was on Oprah’s Master Class, on OWN, I immediately set it up for taping. As I watched I was stunned into deep thought once again. She led me further down the path of accepting the “oneness” of all humanity when she quoted Terence as saying “…nothing that is human is alien to me” and baldly stated that she shared humanity with brutal killers and could not say of herself, “I could never do that”.
In that class and in many interviews she talked about love. She talked about acceptance. She talked about doing right. And she walked the talk.
Maya Angelou will continue to instruct me. Her words will come to mind when I am judgmental and when I am most accepting. They will remind me to love and to open my arms, my mind, and my heart, to all that comes my way. Contrary to her famous quote, I will not forget what she did, and I will not forget what she said. And I will always appreciate how she made me feel.
I will miss her on this mortal plane and yet rejoice that her spirit is still with me.