“Being a woman is hard work. Not without joy and even ecstasy,
but still relentless, unending work.
Becoming an old female may require only being born
with certain genitalia, inheriting long-living genes
and the fortune not to be run over by an out-of-control truck,
but to become and remain a woman command
the existence and employment of genius.”
Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014)
The words of Maya Angelou never cease to create feelings of admiration and awe for me… to the extent that my gosh- why- couldn’t- I- have- written- that paranoia kicks in. The little paperback I randomly picked up yesterday afternoon on an end table in our living room which Pretty now uses as her Rescued Books sorting room caught my attention because it was (a) small and (b) written by Maya Angelou. The book was titled Wouldn’t Take Nothing for my Journey Now.
As I read the book yesterday afternoon, I was grateful to Pretty who always leaves priceless gems around for me to discover, pick up and savor. She knows my love for Maya Angelou and her works so I suspect it was no accident the book was in a conspicuous place.
This book captured my attention and immediately reminded me of my book The Short Side of Time for a couple of reasons. Both books acknowledge the influence and importance of Oprah Winfrey. Ms. Angelou dedicated her book to Oprah Winfrey “with immeasurable love” and I began my preface with “I can actually thank Oprah for this book.” Both books contain a collection of previously published short essays/articles – mine from this blog and Ms. Angelou’s from articles appearing in Essence and Ms. magazines. And it’s right there, my friends in cyberspace, that the similarities end.
My daddy used to tell me to avoid making comparisons to anyone else because there would always be someone who could do something better than I could or someone who wouldn’t be able to quite catch up to my abilities. Needless to say, Maya Angelou is in a category all by herself when the subject is personal essays, and I will never be able to quite catch up to the sheer poetry of her writing in these intimate stories. I can, however, read them with delight.
Many of her brief essays resonated personally with me probably because she published them in 1994 when she was 66 years old. The topics she covered as she described her own journey took me with her, and I cheered for her courage and power displayed vividly on every page. My mind meandered to the person I was in 1994 and how I would have reacted to this book when I was 48 years old. Would that white middle-aged lesbian activist understand what a blueprint Ms. Angelou’s journey could offer me when the storms of life were raging over the next quarter century of my life.
Whether you are a youngster setting off on the journey, a middle-aged traveler making plans for the next twists and turns, or in the third act of your life seeing the final bends and bumps in the road; I strongly recommend you treat yourself to Maya Angelou in this book or any other writings she’s done. I leave you with her thoughts on people.
“I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.”
AS ALWAYS INTERESTING, SHEILA CHINA
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Thanks so very much, China.