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It was very late on Wednesday night, the 28th of May, when close to 3am, I made one last check on Twitter before turning off the phone to go to sleep. There it was written that Maya Angelou had died. I let out an audible gasp, because people like her I thought never could die, their spirit would be eternal. Perhaps yes, her physical body had grown weary at age 86, but her spirit was as youthful and full of energy as ever. That's what I loved about her. Her eyes told so many great stories, her laugh was full of joyous childlike wonder and her wisdom would quieten any room gathered round to listen to what she had to say. She had lived a full life, and had left us so much to treasure in her writing, her activism, and as a human being who faced her challenges in life and didn't let them beat her, but turning it into the most inspiring pieces of work that will outlive her on bookshelves and libraries all over. The world was richer for having her, but we are poorer for her passing. But somewhere up above, it has now become a richer place for she has entered it.
One of my favourite pieces from her sits on a piece of paper, loosely placed inside my journal where I pull it out to read time to time when the moment is calling. Now is as good a time as any to revisit it:
Still I rise- By Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history
with your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history's shame
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
A beautiful song By Ben Harper uses these words by Maya and adapts them into a song- she inspired so many!
"Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it"- Maya Angelou