Many don’t allow themselves to sit and acknowledge the beauty and great courage most poets exhibit. It takes great determination and passion in order to allow others to hear your inner most thoughts, your inner most fears and what touches you. It’s honestly an amount of courage I honestly don’t think I have. I am inspired by poets like Maya and Langston for their willingness to express themselves and allow their art to be shared world wide. Langston Hughes encouraged me to become a write even though I don’t share my work but Maya Angelou encouraged me to do everything with my chin held high. She taught me that one’s past surely does not dictate one future, intellect or worth.
Hearing Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman for the first time at 15, forced me to sit and listen. It was as if she was speaking to the woman that I wanted to be. In fact, she was speaking to the woman that I knew I would be. This woman has great confidence and a presence that can quiet an entire room. She is physically and mentally captivating in everything she does and everything she knows she can do. She is kind yet sassy, confident and humble, but most importantly authentic in all that she does.
I remember hearing this poem for the first time watching Poetic Justice (Yes, I didn’t see this movie until I was 15, don’t judge) and trying my hardest to memorize the whole poem (I couldn’t). But what I memorized is what I honestly believe is the part I was supposed to remember:
Ever since then, she has done something to me. It’s almost as if her voice and her words take over me, I find myself sitting up straighter and holding my head up higher. Not too many women know that this woman was, in fact, a former sex worker turned singer turned dancer turned mother then writer then actor. If you don’t find her words to be inspirational, then you will definitely find her life extremely motivating. She struggled! She experienced love and heartache and love all over again. She’s over come demons that no one would ever dream of meeting. Maya has had more than her fair share of ups and downs.
She’s so well respected and sought after! To have the same level of respect from your peers, elders and more would be such an honor. She was humble and fun and even when she was coming close to her last days, she made sure to keep herself upbeat and busy. If I could have lived when she was in her prime or even heard her speak before she passed would have been an honor. There are people that we see whether on tv or in real life that have profound impacts on our lives and this woman is one.
I see my grandmothers when I look at her, I see their mothers as well and most importantly I see myself.
Now this poem is one that I live by. My mentor read it out loud to her class one day and as I sat in the back correcting papers, I rose my hand and asked her to repeat it forgetting where I was. She did and I’ve been hooked ever since.
As I’ve mentioned before I find myself in funks quite often leaving those around me to interpret my current state as being rude or angry. Because I am often talkative, when I choose to be silent it instantly comes off as having an attitude when in fact I am having internal conflicts. I’m trying to bring myself out of a funk and it only makes it worse when I’m trying to do this while trying to put on a happy facade. I know I’m not the only one who experiences this, and I know we all go through our own form of inner conflicts. But having a smile sent my way rather than being questioned would make me feel so much better.
You may have heard people say to be nice to others because you never know what someone is going through and I try my hardest to adhere to this. You don’t know what someone is going through, and vice versa. We fail to realize that we are all human and humans are entitled to have a bad day but when our fellow humans are having said days, we should at least send a smile. You never know what a smile, a compliment or anything of that nature can do to a person. I don’t want to sound cliche or corny but tell me if I’m wrong, having a genuine and kind gesture given to you when you are down and feel as if you are being followed by a grey cloud would brighten anyones day even if for a second.
I have had so many clouds but thankfully I have also had twice as many more rainbows given to me!