Back in Grade 5 or 6 when I lived in Abu Dhabi, we had a section of English class called Comprehensive Literature where we had this thick hard-back book filled with excerpts from books that were brilliant but perhaps too advanced for my age group to read in totality. It is then that we had read an excerpt from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and though I don’t remember much about the story itself, I oddly remember it made me feel very strong. Perhaps it was the illustrative element accompanying the story that I can still recall quite vividly or perhaps it was this quote that my teacher Ms Fitzpatrick explained to us in words that would be relevant to our own 11 year old existence then, but that excerpt, these words and its author have stayed with me through the years.
“Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well, with so much heart, that people can’t take their eyes off you.”
I eventually did read the entire book and then physically collected her quotes in my journal and when the digital age arrived, signed up for her online newsletters and then of course liked her Facebook page as well where she would frequently post herself, or so it seemed. Her loss to the world is an immense one, because very few people have this magic with words, and words that resonate across borders, colour, race, diversity to sound equally important and real to anyone who reads them. So here is to a life well lived, one that inspires and will continue to do so, because this was one woman, you really couldn’t take your eyes off in how well she lived the life she got.
RIP Maya Angelou.
image credit: Maya Angelou by rocketrictic on Flickr