I first heard of Maya Angelou when I read the news of her passing away last year. I am embarrassed to admit that I did not know of her until then. A few months later, I saw a collection of her books at the neighbourhood book exchange programme, yet I did not pick any of those books. One month after that when I returned to the book exchange, the books were gone (someone obviously had a better idea on what to read) except for one – The Heart of a Woman. I chose that book for exchange but am yet to read it.
Last year, during my birthday, I started Oprah Winfrey’s This I Know For Sure. From there I found out that Maya Angelou was her mentor. I was then curious; who is this great woman who mentored Oprah Winfrey? I started paying more attention to her works and by some chance, I found a copy of Letter to My Daughter at the university’s library. I started reading it yesterday and just finished it.
I am pleasantly surprised that it is not the typical “You should …” or “You shouldn’t…” kind of book. It consists mostly of her personal experiences and insights. They are a delight to read because they made me think and allowed me to come to my own conclusions about the points she raised. There were many quotes worth remembering, and many passages worth re-reading. Here are some which I took down.
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.
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.
We need to have the courage to say obesity is not funny and vulgarity is not amusing. Insolent children and submissive parents are not the characters we want to admire and emulate. Flippancy and sarcasm are not the qualities which we need to include in our daily conversations.
I am never proud to participate in violence, yet, I know that each of us must care enough for ourselves, that we can be ready and able to come to our own defense when and wherever needed.
In all the institutions I try to be present and accountable for all I do and leave undone. I know that eventually I shall have to be present and accountable in the presence of God. I do not wish to be found wanting.