As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the great Dr. Maya Angelou passed away yesterday morning at the age of 86. I remember reading all her books in the summer after 8th grade and being struck by the sheer force of her will and the triumph of her incredible accomplishments against so many odds. She was a woman of immense wisdom with a gift of language by which to share it. Of course, there are countless quotes and works to remember her by and I particularly love the following poem, especially the final line, which she shared in an interview with Oprah when being honored on her 70th birthday:
“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
In honor of her extraordinary life, I invite you to share some things that YOU have learned in yours. I’ll start:
I’ve learned that people are flawed. People disappoint those they care about. People make mistakes. If you want a happy, successful relationship, you need to work towards more compassionate acceptance of those mistakes and flaws. You need to learn to forgive and move on.
I’ve learned that if someone has to change — even if it’s just one little thing — in order to be right for you, he or she’s not right for you.
I’ve learned that a well-fitting bra can make all the difference.
I’ve learned that moving your body is a quick and easy way to improve your mood and change your perspective.
I’ve learned that every trip to a new place is a homecoming for your soul.
I’ve learned that people show you who they are early and often.
I’ve learned that you’ll rarely regret time spent with people you love.
I’ve learned it’s easier to say “no” from the get-go than to pretend you won’t say it later or resent saying yes.
I’ve learned that one of the best gifts we can give is acceptance.
What have YOU learned?