Celebrated Author, social activist and black-rights crusader Maya Angelou’s writings are as fascinating as her life is inspiring. Illuminating the path of action, never-say-die attitude in the face of personal calamities and social oppression mark her as a universally loved personality. For me, her writings have been inspirational and an indispensable guide to understand how to write beautiful prose and poetry.
Here I collect some quotations from her book ‘Wouldn’t Take Nothing for my Journey Now’.
May be some one, some where will find it inspiring and useful- especially for those who have not read Maya Angelou’s work or this book in particular.
What is this book about? It’s about being in all ways a woman, about the sweetness of charity, about the spirit, and about death and its legacy. It is about living well and living good and the power of the word, and complaining, and sexual encouragement, and jealousy – and even taking time, just for yourself.
It is Maya Angelo talking from the heart, down-to-earth and real, but also inspiring.
(From the flap of the book)
Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the roads which lie ahead, and those over which we have traveled, and if the future road looms ominous and unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that as well. (Page 24)
The judicious response to a gibe can disarm the rude person, removing the power to injure.
This is not another admonition to turn the other cheek, although I do think that that can be an effective ploy on certain occasions. Rather, this is an encouragement to meet adverse situations with the intent and style to control them. Falling into an entanglement with brutes will usually result in nothing more conclusive than a stimulated nervous system and an upset digestive tract. (Page- 28-29)
Well, yes. A certain amount of paranoia is essential in the oppressed or in any likely targets of oppressors. We must stay vigilant and be very careful on how we allow ourselves to be addressed.
We can too easily become what we are called with all the unwelcome responsibilities the title makes us heir to. (Page 40)
I appreciate the creativity which is employed in the design of fabric and the design of clothes, and when something does fit my body and personality, I rush to it, buy it quickly, and wear it frequently. But I must not lie to myself for fashion’s sake. I am only willing to purchase the item which becomes me and to wear that which enhances my image of myself to myself. (Page-55)
The statement “clothes make the man” should be looked at, re-examined, and in fact re-evaluated. Clothes can make the man or woman look silly and foppish and foolish. Try rather to be so much yourself that the clothes you choose increase your naturalness and grace. (Page-57)
My dears, I draw the picture of the wealthy couple standing in a darkened hallway, peering into a lighted room where black servants were lifting their voices in merriment and camaraderie, and I realise that living well is an art which can be developed. Of course, you will need the basic talents to build upon: they are a love of life and ability to take great pleasure from small offerings, and assurance that the world owes you nothing and that every gift is exactly that, a gift. That people who may differ from you in political stance, sexual persuasion, and racial inheritance can be founts of fun, and if you are lucky, they can become even convivial comrades.
Living life as art requires a readiness to forgive. I do not mean that you should suffer fools gladly, but rather remember your own shortcomings, and when you encounter another with flaws, don’t be eager to righteously seal yourself away from the offender for ever. Take a few breaths and imagine yourself having just committed the action which has set you at odds. (Page-65)
Life is a pure adventure, and the sooner we realise that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art: to bring all our energies to each encounter, to remain flexible enough to notice and admit when what we expected to happen did not happen. We need to remember that we are created creative and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed.
Life seems to love the liver of it. Money and power can liberate only if they are used to do so. They can imprison and inhibit more finally than barred windows and iron chains. (Page 66)
Wouldn’t Take Nothing for my Journey (Maya Angelou)
Random House, New York, 1993, ISBN-0-679-42743-0
(Finished on 10 Sept 2022)