Maya Angelou: One Of The Truest Friends To American Literature And To Hearts Everywhere

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

When you know better, you do better.

The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.

I have clung to these words, Maya. These and so many others from you. May I call you Maya? I think you would be ok with that. It’s not out of disrespect to my elders, it just feels like we are friends. You have given me so much, and I, nothing to you in return. Your story, your voice, your words, have lifted me. They have prodded me, made me think, made me cry, made me do better. I have carried them with me for years as a life-preserver. You had no idea. Every time I needed to be washed back to shore, there they were, perfectly delivered in exactly the way my heart needed to hear them.

You have inspired me to write more. To not be afraid of my gifts. To be proud of the light within me, and the dark from which it came. I have learned from you that “when you learn, teach, when you get, give.” I am trying. You were a blessing in my life and you never even knew me. But I think maybe you did. I think that maybe our hearts knew each other once, or maybe they will someday. That my connection to you as a once damaged, but never broken young girl resonated, seeped into my soul in such a way, that I feel as if your story gave me courage to walk in my own. You taught so much to so many. You gave so much to so many. “When we find someone who is brave, fun, intelligent, and loving, we have to thank the universe.” So wise. And so, thank you universe for Maya.

Am I African-American? Why should that matter? Have I felt first-hand the deep cuts of racism? Perhaps, and perhaps not. Who is to say what’s in my heart? But what is certain is that I understand sorrow. My heart is intimately familiar with pain. Whose is not? It has overcome darkness and inhumanity. I identify with why the caged bird sings, because I have lived my life believing with every fiber of who I am, that one day, with enough courage and resilience, the caged bird within, you’ll soon be flying. Just as you did, Maya. Just as you lived. Just as you now have. You claimed the sky. Thank you for showing me the way.

A free bird leaps on the back
Of the wind and floats downstream
Till the current ends and dips his wing
In the orange suns rays
And dares to claim the sky.

But a BIRD that stalks down his narrow cage
Can seldom see through his bars of rage
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
Of things unknown but longed for still
And his tune is heard on the distant hill for
The caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
And the trade winds soft through
The sighing trees
And the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright
Lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged BIRD stands on the grave of dreams
His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with
A fearful trill of things unknown
But longed for still and his
Tune is heard on the distant hill
For the caged bird sings of freedom.
– Maya Angelou

This is a piece I’ve written in your honor. It’s nothing much, but its the best I have to give today. And I am so thankful for today. Gratitude should begin our every waking thought. For as you have said, “This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.”

You Find Out Who Your Friends Are

When there is nothing in it for them.

When there is nothing left of you.

You find out who your friends are-

When just being there means more than anything.

When anything is more than nothing, but yet they prove to you that anything is not nearly enough, so instead they show you everything.

You find out who your friends are-

When you have nothing to give in return to their kindness.

When they accept in return, nothing but knowing you would give something, all you have, if you had it to give. When your friendship is payment enough, because it was the only currency they were looking to exchange.

You find out who your friends are-

When what’s said is unpopular, what’s felt is uncomfortable, and what’s heard is unspoken.

When you realize you are still loved for you, even after the mask comes off and exposes the fragile heart underneath.

When you hope they see right through the glass walls, that are only there to keep the weak ones out and hold the weaker ones up.

When all the times or never, are not counted against you. When there is no such thing as keeping score.

When forgetting to call doesn’t mean forgetting to care. When disappointment breezes in and just as quickly, it escapes. Leaving no trace of intention.

When following through means the world to you. And when going beyond is above expectation.

You find out who your friends are-

When the worst days become a little better when somehow, inexplicably, they can make you smile through the storms. When they show you they will light your way if the light within goes dim.

When the best days seem like they are still ahead, because you know your turn is coming.

When you believe that endless opportunities still await you, to show your light to them– to find out who their friends are.

But don’t wait for those days ahead.

Don’t wait.
Don’t wait.
Don’t wait.

You find out who your friends are by being one to yourself first. Be the best friend you can be to yourself. Love yourself. Be kind, be gentle, be forgiving. Be unrelenting in these things, and you will attract the right friends, the right people, who see the same in themselves, and the world will grow brighter.

Thank you Maya Angelou. For loving yourself enough to shine your light on this world. It has made mine a brighter place.