I heard Maya Angelou read her work at San Diego State University at least 10 years ago. We were seated impossibly far away from the stage in that enormous gym, and the sound was unfortunate. What shot through all the din of straining and squinting was a six foot tall African American woman—then well into her seventies—who was dangerously and beguilingly aware of her own magic.
Though we couldn’t see it from where we were sitting, you were just sure she had a twinkle in her eye. In fact, you could hear that twinkle in her voice, in the way she danced through lines with her meter and with her hips.
She was captivating.
Since that day, I have loved her and found such inspiration in her story, her writing, and her way of being—which is smooth and scandalous.
Her newest memoir, Mom & Me & Mom just released, and I decided on a hard copy—instead of reading it on my kindle—because I wanted to feel it, feel her, be able to underline with a pencil all the juiciest lines for you.
I was so engrossed in the book that I took my kids to McDonalds during the lunch rush so we would have to wait in the drive-thru line and I could read while we waited, children securely fastened to their seats.
Which reminds me . . . sometimes you’ve got to steal time for the things you love, the things that fill you up, your soul’s deepest inspiration. The universe isn’t going to hand you the time. You have to concoct a way you can safely and legally and ethically (i.e. don’t steal the time from your boss when you’re getting paid to be working) steal a bit of time to fill up. McDonalds drive thru it is!
Angelou concludes her prologue with this:
“Love heals. Heals and liberates. I use the word love, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions and that which causes the blood to flow orderly in our veins. This book has been written to examine some of the ways love heals and helps a person climb impossible heights and rise from immeasurable depths” (x).
The books focuses entirely on her complicated and evolving relationship with her mother, and it is, in fact, a tribute to how love can be the hand that pulls us up, time and time again.
I have given this book 92 out of 5 stars. In it’s pages I found a beautiful story, but more. I also found a warrior woman—Maya Angelou—who has inspired me for so many years. Reading Maya, I also find myself again and the parts of me I want to protect and nourish. I find the parts of me I don’t want to let shame or fear or any other kind of bullying silence.
So whether or not you read the book, please take the following with you: Steal some time to love on that warrior inside you, that brave and beguiling soul within that needs nourishment and inspiration and lots and lots of breathing room.
I love you and I believe in you today!