Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maya Angelou

I don't remember the first time I read Maya Angelou. I wish I could tell you that it was this groundbreaking moment in 5th grade or that I spent hours in the library reading her poetry, but those are false. I just remember her words always being there. I remember feeling inspired each time I have read a poem or a quote by Maya. I remember that she is one of my biggest influences, both as a writer and as a human being.

I can tell you that in high school, I was listening to the Rent soundtrack before I went and saw the play for the first time. In one of the songs, they reference Maya. I remember hearing her name and then going back to read some of her work. Although it wasn't a huge moment, I do know that high school is where I began to develop my absolute love for writing. Maya is partly to thank for that passion.

Her words are absolutely gorgeous. She crafts them ever so carefully to create beautiful, inspiring, bold pieces. She was not just a writer, or a poet- she was an artist. And my, did I admire her work.

I love that Maya put her absolute heart and soul into her writing. She wanted us to listen. She wanted us to believe the words that she was writing. She wanted us to take her words and live them. That is the kind of writer I hope to be. To whom, I'm not sure. I just hope to always write with passion, no matter who is reading.

But it's not just Maya's writing I admire.She was an incredible woman, full of fight, compassion, and honesty. I have always felt an extremely strong connection to Dr. Maya Angelou. I feel we have similiar philosophies on life, love, and friendship. One of my favorite quotes from her reads

“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

This is something I firmly believe. When I work with teens or kids, this is the biggest lesson I hope to teach them: treat people right, because they will remember you for how you treated them.

Maya was a fighter. She was a warrior in the Civil Rights Movement, using her words as her strongest weapon. She desired a peaceful world, a world of equality, compassion, and forgiveness. We've come a long way from when Miss Maya was in her prime, but we still have a long way to go. It's up to us now, to continue to fight. It's up to us to be warriors.

My heart sunk a little when I heard of Maya's passing yesterday. Perhaps a little selfishly- we need people like her. We need her. We need her words. But the beautiful thing about writing? Her words will live forever. Let us never forget them and continue to share them with others.

“I'm convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they're stones that don't matter. As long as you're breathing, it's never too late to do some good.” -- Maya Angelou

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