“Maya Angelou shared wisdom, gave strength, and inspired creativity in a generation”
Language is such a powerful thing. Words are such a powerful tool. We take it for granted just how much weight our words actually carry. Something as small as a promise, or saying ‘I love you’ to someone, or ‘We need to talk’ can mean so much, evoke so much emotion and feelings. Three/four words, a phrase, a sentence, can have you feeling sick in the pit of your stomach or alternatively jumping for joy.
The recent death of Maya Angelou (28/5/2014) a famous poet and author, to who many around the world looked up to as a role model, found me delving into the vast catalogue of her work, (while also being useful revision for A2 English Lit) and reminding myself of her work with poems such as: Still I Rise, On the Pulse of Morning and collections such as ‘I Shall Not Be Moved’.
But something that stuck out to me from Maya Angelou’s work was actually a quote, that said:
And after reading that, my thoughts instantly turned to all the people who told me they would always be there for me. People who were closest to me and left, and the people who are still here. I reflected on the people who had promised me things, only to later break them just as I believed in them. These are things I’m sure we’ve all experienced, but it just shows how quick people are to say these things, not actually thinking about the consequences.
Yesterday was one of the most significant days of my life, as I buried my Grandad. He was a lawyer, and so ironically you can imagine how important words were in his profession. And as I prepared for the funeral, there was only one person I could think of that understood what I was going through. Someone who I’d helped get through something very similar just a year ago. And as you’ve probably guessed, someone who is no longer a part of my life after previously stating how much they couldn’t imagine me not being a part of theirs.
The funeral also brought together many members of the family who I either haven’t met before, or simply haven’t seen since I was young. And as families do, promises were made to keep in contact and to rebuild lost relationships. Whether or not this will happen is unclear, but it is another example of how quick we, as people are to say the things we think we should, or what we think others want to hear, without actually thinking about the consequences and impact of the statement
The point I am trying to make, is that sadly, it does not matter how much you do for a person, or what you say. Human’s are emotional beings, regardless of how much you want to tweet about how much you don’t care about things, people or situations. If you say something to somebody, it is going to have an impact, just like every action has a reaction. Of course it is possible to say that words can only mean something to you if you let them, but generally, we are prone to letting feelings influence our decisions . Feelings that we often express through our words. But feelings can also be fleeting, so while you say something one day, the next day you might be feeling something completely different, and hurting people in the process.
Through her work, Maya Angelou shared wisdom, gave strength, and inspired creativity in a generation. She will always be remembered throughout the world as a modern great in her profession. And there is something that each of us can take away from the writings she left behind.
In a world with so many faults, Maya Angelou’s death reminds us that words are more than just a way to spread gossip and badness. Words have the power to heal, not just to hurt. To lift people up, and not just put them down. Words are a powerful tool, and so we should really be mindful of how we use them.