Inspiring Words from Inspiring People: Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. Among countless other awards, she received a Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She passed away in 2014.

Inspiring Words from Inspiring People: Maya Angelou

This is a letter to myself when I was about fifteen:

Dear Me, Myself then . . .

First, I know that you know how to listen. When I was eight years old I became a mute and was a mute until I was thirteen, and I thought of my whole body as an ear, so I can go into a crowd and sit still and absorb all sound. That talent or ability has lasted and served me until today, when I’m eighty-three years old.

Once you appreciate one of your blessings, one of your senses, your sense of hearing, then you begin to respect the sense of seeing and touching and tasting, you learn to respect all the senses.

Find a beautiful piece of art—if you fall in love with Van Gogh or Maltese, or John Killens; or if you fall in 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. The person may have keener eyesight, a better ear; the person might have a more live body and can dance, but the person cannot be more human than you.

That is very important because that ensures you that you are a human being and nothing human can be alien to you. You will be able to go around the world, learning languages, speaking to everybody, because no one can be more human than you or nor can be less human. They can be meaner or crueler, or wetter or prettier, younger, richer, but they can’t be more human than you. Remember that.