Aside from the famous works, I really didn’t know a lot about Maya Angelou until she passed away last week. A bunch of her quotes and videos went viral right after she died. The one that made the biggest impression on me was the video of the conversation between her and Dave Chappelle. In the video, she said a couple things that were more than timely for me.
Chappelle questioned her about how she was able to live during the height of the Civil Rights Movement and continue to work towards progress without being angry. Angelou responded by saying that she WAS angry, everybody was angry, but they had to learn how to channel their anger. She explained that some marched their anger, some sang that anger and others wrote their anger. Everybody had their part in changing the social climate and they realized they could only be effective by doing what they’re good at.
That explanation was exactly what I needed to hear and I’ll explain why. Since 2010, I haven’t done anything language arts related, but all of a sudden I can’t think of very many things I would rather do than write. And I could not figure out where the insatiable desire came from or the random inspiration. When I heard that, I realized that it was because I got mad. Like, really mad. But instead of flying off the handle and doing all the things I could imagine to express that anger, I started writing.
I have journal entries. I have blogs. I have tweets. I have Facebook posts. I write when I’m happy. I write when I’m sad. I write when I’m angry. I write when I’m confused.
I had to learn how to make sense of my seemingly spiraling world and with that I determined that I would make a positive influence. My real thoughts aren’t as deep, loving and inspiring as they present themselves here, but Maya taught me how to filter my feelings for the sake of myself and those around me.