Last night I went to see Maya Angelou speak.
It was a spontaneous invitation by some bookclub friends as they had an extra ticket. I am soooo glad they did. Otherwise, I would have missed out on something really spectacular.
Admittedly, I don’t know too much about Dr. Angelou outside of her poetry achievements. I do have a copy of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, but it has been ages since I read it.
At first I didn’t know what to expect; however, Izzy and B’s mother both told me they had seen her before and that she was uh-may-zing.
So I tried not to expect amazing, while expecting amazing.
And it was.
She may appear small from the orchestra, but her presence is strong and powerful. Her voice is commanding. It is very deep, almost masculine, and throaty.
I was surprised the first time she interspersed song with her recital of her poems. I quickly grew accustomed to it. Her singing is even more powerful than her spoken word.
Also, the woman is funny. She has a wicked sense of humor.
Not only did she recite poetry-hers and that of other poets-she shared stories ranging from childhood to touring adventures. Some were funny, some were poignant.
I find it difficult to put into words exactly what it was like, how moving it was, how compelling. How my heart was churning and full and bursting. How I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.
I loved the way she spoke of how we could be rainbows in the clouds for others. How we have influence, even if we are unaware. How only equals make friends.
She also spoke of courage. That courage is the most important virtue as it allows you to express the other virtues all the time. “Anyone can be kind, loving, or truthful sporadically. It takes courage to be these things all of the time.” (Paraphrasing)
She showed us her Presidential Award for Freedom medal. She told us stories about her Uncle Willie and her brother. She told a story about her son. She told us about one time she was on an airplane and the pilot came out of the cockpit to speak to her. She asked him who was flying the plane. Now she rides a bus while touring. She shared the poem she wrote for the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations. (“Whenever someone asks me to do a good thing I say yes.”)
Listening to her was inspiring. It was so what I needed at this very moment in time. A smoothie for my soul.
Now I want to pull out my copy of Caged Bird and get reacquainted with Angelou’s words.
Have any of you had the pleasure of seeing Dr. Angelou? If so, I would love to hear about your experience.