Maya Angelou

I’m inspired, inspired by great women like Diane Rehm, Maya Angelou, Asha Bhonsle, Marian McPartland, to name a few. Today is my day to be in awe with one of them, i.e. Maya Angelou. She’s so much! I mean, she is a writer, a poet, an adviser, a teacher, a speaker, but most importantly, she’s a strong, confident and courteous woman. I respect and honor every well thought out word she speaks, the clear vision of character she has, the valuable beliefs and thoughts she shares, the glow around her she unknowingly exudes and so much more!

I listened to her talk with Diane Rehm back in November last year (http://wamu.org/programs/dr/08/11/20.php) and was moved by her words. She talked about practising humility and remembering to thank our ancestors for doing all that they did, for ensuring we are where we are. But more importantly, she said, “What do I do? What is my job? My job, it seems to me very clearly, is to make myself a person who the next generation will say Thank You to.

I have been reading her new book, Letter to my Daughter. It is such a thought provoking read that I think it should be a mandatory read for life. It is an even more interesting read as Ms. Angelou does not have any daughters. She just has a son, but she embraces thousands of women as her daughters. I say thank you to her for this!

Here is the introduction to her book, that has touched me so:

Letter to My Daughter
Dear Daughter,

This letter has taken an extraordinary time getting itself together. I have all along known that I wanted to tell you directly of some lessons I have learned and under what conditions I have learned them.

My life has been long, and believing that life loves the liver of it, I have dared to try many things, sometimes trembling, but daring, still. I have only included here events and lessons which I have found useful. I have not told how I have used the solutions, knowing that you are intelligent and creative and resourceful and you will use them as you see fit.

You will find in this book accounts of growing up, unexpected emergencies, a few poems, some light stories to make you laugh and some to make you meditate.

There have been people in my life who meant me well, taught me valuable lessons, and others who have meant me ill and, have given me ample notification that my world is not meant to be all peaches and cream.

I have made many mistakes and no doubt will make more before I die. When I have seen pain, when I have found that my ineptness has caused displeasure, I have learned to accept my responsibility and to forgive myself first, then to apologize to anyone injured by my misreckoning. Since I cannot un-live history, and repentance is all I can offer God, I have hopes that my sincere apologies were accepted.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.

Never whine. Whining lets a brute know that a victim is in the neighborhood.

Be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity.

I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian, Spanish-speaking, Native American and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all. Here is my offering to you.

-Maya Angelou