Book II Chapter Nine — Maya Angelou
It is another beautiful morning. It feels like a Sunday but I am unsure, and besides it does not matter here.
Each time I open these massive doors and enter the library, I feel as if I am about to embark on another fabulous adventure. We added a new wing, a Poet’s Corner, and moved the entire poetry collection there. The addition opens to the lake on one side. I think the birds love it as much as the poets as the overhang provides protection from the elements. On the right is a wildflower garden designed as a labyrinth for walking meditation. It extends for as long as someone wishes to walk. It has no physical boundary so it is easy to be alone and yet it is impossible to be lost. I see Maya Angelou standing on the bridge connecting the library with the labyrinth. I approach her.
“Good morning Maya. I hope I am not disturbing your thoughts.”
“No. Not at all Socrates. Standing here in the morning sun I realize you only are free when you understand you belong no place — you belong every place. I am not sure why you invited me here my friend but I am grateful for the invitation.”
“This is every place. You are here Maya because you are one of the people I would have loved to sit down with and share a pot of tea or a glass of wine. It did not happen then so it can happen now.”
“Thank you Socrates. You are very kind.”
“Maya. You remind me so much of my mother and her sisters. There was not a strong male figure in our family. My mother and her four sisters raised us all. I was raised knowing a woman’s strength.”
“A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.”
“My mother was like that and passed the trait to be myself forward.”
“I know. Just this morning Mary Oliver gave me a copy of your poem and essay on Stand Undiminished. I did not know you are also a poet Socrates. You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution. You seem to have discovered that truth for yourself and now you are here helping us to remember. Helping us to be inspired by life.”
“Thank you Maya. Like the stream we are standing over this moment, it is always changing. It is never the same river except by name. I do think of myself as more of a poet than a writer. Poetry takes a great deal of courage.”
“We need the courage to create ourselves daily, to be bodacious enough to create ourselves daily – as Christians, as Jews, as Muslims, as thinking, caring, laughing, loving human beings. I think that the courage to confront evil and turn it by dint of will into something applicable to the development of our evolution, individually and collectively, is exciting, honorable.”
“Indeed it is Maya. Our humanness is our common trait.”
“If you are going down a road and don’t like what’s in front of you, and look behind you and don’t like what you see, get off the road. Create a new path!”
“Yes. Unfortunately many of us get stuck in one of life’s ruts and fail to change lanes in a safe and timely manner.
“Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.”
“That is why we are still a part of this world Maya, but I need to regress a bit. I was thinking about something you said earlier. ‘If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking.’ Evil and racism come to mind. If only thinking could change them.”
“Throughout our nervous history, we have constructed pyramidic towers of evil, ofttimes in the name of good. My moto has become ‘Just do right.’ Right may not be expedient, it may not be profitable, but it will satisfy your soul. It brings you the kind of protection that bodyguards can’t give you. So try to live your life in a way that you will not regret years of useless virtue and inertia and timidity. Take up the battle. Take it up. It’s yours. This is your life. This is your world.”
“And this is yours Maya. As poets we both know the power of words to affect change. The pen over the sword. Is it enough?”
“At the end of the day Socrates people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
“Amen Maya. Amen.”
The Gate Keeper Of Inspiration: Book II Chapter Ten — Carl Edward Sagan will be published on Sunday, December 08, 2019.