Dr. Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 - May 28, 2014)
Maya Angelou died today. She was 86. I have liked and been inspired by her, her message, and her poems for many years. Her passing is quite a loss for today's world.
I just watched a video entitled Love Liberates in which Dr. Angelou offers abundant advice about the power of love and becoming who you are meant to be. Like most other sage advice, her message is simple, but not easy to fulfill. The concept of loving freely, without ego or selfish expectations, is admirable yet challenging to live for most.
"I am grateful to have been loved and to be loved now and to be able to love, because that liberates. Love liberates. It doesn't just hold—that's ego. Love liberates. It doesn't bind. Love says, 'I love you. I love you if you're in China. I love you if you're across town. I love you if you're in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I'd like to have your arms around me. I'd like to hear your voice in my ear. But that's not possible now, so I love you. Go." -Maya Angelou
That last line above was in reference to her mother, liberating her to let go when she was dying of cancer. She was returning the favor of when she recalls her mother liberating her at twenty-two years old. Her mother told her at that young age that she thought Maya was one of the greatest women she had ever met. After being told this, Dr. Angelou recalls thinking "Suppose I am going to be someone. She released me. She freed me to say I may have something in me that would be of value, maybe not just to me. That's love." What a pivotal role her mother played in her life, as she then went on to be a great thinker, poet, novelist, actress, motivational speaker, living legend, and mentor to so many.
This story inspires me, as it is a testament of how much of an effect someone's love and encouragement can have on another person. The effect a parent can have on their child who is still developing their identity is one of the best examples of this. What a great responsibility we have as parents - sometimes overwhelmingly so.
Ultimately, I believe to love others, in any form, unselfishly, is what we should all strive for. I do, yet fail often, as my own wants sometimes get the best of me. But I guess all I or anyone else can do is try, and keep on trying. It will get easier the more I practice it. At least I hope it will.
Some of my favorite quotes of Dr. Angelou's...
- "I know I know enough to try to live what I know."
- "When people show you who they are, believe them."
- "Take care of you first, then you have enough to give to others"
- "Live your life in a way that you will not regret years of useless virtue and inertia and timidity"
- Phenomenal Woman, a poem