Sunday, December 13, 2009

Some Wisdom from Maya

My mom was in town for my birthday this week. So nice to have her around, even though a lot of our time was spent with her knitting (jealous) and me studying (ick). She and I have been determined to experience the world through art (fiber art most specifically) and reading this year. She gave me a positively splendid book for a birthday gift called Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou.

This is the second book of Maya's that I have read... the first being All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes, which interested me because it was while she lived in Ghana. In actuality, Maya and I have a lot in common. Of course, I'm not a black American, but I am a dancer, a people lover, and a fan of Ghana... just like her. Maya's quotes have inspired me (scroll to the bottom of my blog for my favorite Maya Angelou quote!). I have been lucky enough to find even more inspiration in my latest read.

I know, I know... it's finals week, but this is the perfect book to be reading while studying. Each little chapter is separate from the last and only a page or two long making it the perfect thing to pick up real fast before bed, when needing a study break, or waiting for a ride... love it.

So here is some wisdom I have gained from Maya this week...

In her introduction... " 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. (Please pretend I never wrote a blog solely devoted to whining about my birthday...) Be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity."

" The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm or amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed."

"All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart which tells us all that we are more alike than we are unalike."

"The human heart is so delicate and sensitive that it always needs some tangible encouragement to prevent it from faltering in its labor. The human heart is so robust, so tough, that once encouraged it beats its rhythm with a loud, unswerving insistency. One thing that encourages the heart is music. Throughout the ages we have created songs to grow on and to live by. We Americans have created songs to embolden the hearts and inspire the spirit of people all over the world."

" If we tolerate vulgarity, our future will sway and fall under the burden of ignorance. It need not be so. We have the brains and the heart to face our futures bravely. Taking responsibility for the time we take up and the space we occupy. To respect our ancestors and out of concern for our descendants, we must show ourselves as courteous and courageous well-meaning Americans. Now."

And from her convocation speech...
"Are you prepared to work
To make this country, our country
More than it is today?

For that is the job to be done.
That is the reason you have
Worked hard, your sacrifices
Of energy and time,
The monies of your parents
Or of government have been paid
So that you can transform your
Country and your world.

Look beyond your tasseled caps
And you will see injustice.
At the end of your fingertips
You will find cruelties,
Irrational hate, bedrock sorrow
And terrifying loneliness
There is your work.

Make a difference
Use this degree which you
Have earned to increase
Virtue in your world."

Well put, Maya Angelou.

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