Hearing the news about Maya Angelou’s passing rocked my core.
She left a legacy, no doubt.
She overcame many hardships and rose out of them, sharing her message and wisdom so gracefully with the world. She did not let her past define her. Instead, she used her voice in a way that inspired millions.
In 2008, I had the opportunity to see her speak at a conference in Washington DC when I was working at Emory University specializing in depression in older adults.
It was opening night and Dr Maya Angelou was the keynote. She gracefully came out on stage and all rose to their feet.
I could just FEEL her energy in the room. At times the audience was so silent you could hear a pin drop. When she spoke, her calming voice filled the room with an energy that is just indescribable. And it wasn’t only her VOICE that filled the room as she bestowed her wisdom, it was her grace, smile, and sheer presence that was amazingly powerful.
Although I laughed some as she shared some light jokes, tears streamed down my face during the majority of her speech. I felt immense gratitude for this opportunity and to share the room with this true inspiration and legend.
What was it about Maya Angelou? What can we learn from her? Does her death serve as a reminder to us to share our messages? To leave a legacy? To do our best to leave this world a better place?
As my heart again is filled with gratitude that Dr. Angelou shared her courage, wisdom and beauty with us, I believe this poem sums up so much:
“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.”
― Maya Angelou