Dr. Maya Angelou, called a “global renaissance woman,” passed away on May 28, 2014. She fully embodied the unshakable faith and spiritual values of African-American family life, community and culture.
In a 1985 commencement speech, Dr. Angelou, a professor at Wake Forest University, told graduates that “your destiny is to develop the courage to flesh out the great dreams, to dare to love, to dare to care, to dare to want to be significant and to admit it, not by the things you own or the positions you hold, but by the lives you live.”
“We are all the artists of our own lives,” Maya Angelou said. Deep down, we know this is true. The ways we differ, as annoying or inspiring as they may variously be, weave the warp and weft of a rich fabric, creating the wild tapestry of our shared humanity – woven together by loving awareness. With a little bit of mindfulness about ourselves, we can feel our one love, one heart.
She tells us to: “Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin – find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.”
I fell in love with the wisdom teachings of mindfulness and compassion. I dared to love a path that asked me to find my own way. It was never intended as a revealed doctrine for me to believe in. This path was taught by “human beings just like us, no more human, no less” who had the courage and daring to step outside conventional cultural expectations and dream of an enlightened life and society. They looked deeply into the truth of their actual lived experience, observed their lives with sustained attentiveness and care, and discovered an awakening that has transformed and uplifted the lives of millions of people for thousands of years. This can be our destiny, too.
Image Credit: T. Goodman