I always loved reading as a child. Sadly, once I got to high school, I hated 90% of the literature assigned—stuffy old texts with descriptions of settings that dragged on for pages, and female characters that lacked depth and mostly lived off the page, entering the story only when necessary to shape the male characters’ experience. I’ll admit, many of the books I didn’t even read—I’d skim the first and last page of each chapter and listen carefully to the lectures in order to ace the tests.
But I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings was different. I fell in love with Maya Angelou, with her lyrical prose, her wisdom and inner strength, her courage and honesty, and her vulnerability. There was a beauty in her sadness that lingered, long after I could remember the details of her story. When I think of a creative legacy whose words will forever hold the power to touch a soul, I think of Maya Angelou.
That is why I felt drawn to sketch here a few nights ago, and share her image along with the quote at the top of this post.
A bit of research shows that the quote was published in a book by another author by the name of Joan Walsh Anglund in 1967, so while Maya is confirmed to have said it, original attribution is a little up in the air, as she never seems to have written it. (Turns out memorable quotes are a tricky, tricky thing!) This was researched and reported as the quote appeared on postage stamps with her picture a few years back.
However, she was known to have said it in an interview, and it certainly related closely to the title of her autobiography, so… perhaps it resonated with her and she was quoting another author as an influence—which was edited out for whatever reason, or perhaps it clicked so many years before that she had internalized it as an idea that was a part of her, or perhaps two creatives came up with essentially the same metaphor.
Odd as that seems, I can’t tell you how often I pick up a book or a magazine and see, written in ink, a thought that has been floating around in my mind. Often in the exact words that have been bouncing around in my mind. I marvel at it as synchronicity, and indication that I’m on the right track.
In fact, an article over at Quote Investigator points to about a dozen written references in books dating back to the early 1800s ruminating on why birds sing.
I have no idea what to make of all the apparent controversy, but I do know that it doesn’t change how I feel about Maya, her writing, or the message behind the quote. (Also, I think it’s worth noting that the whole controversy took place a year after her death, on a stamp in memoriam. So, if it was a misunderstanding, you really can’t blame her!)
Therefore, I’ll stick with the sketch and the quote as something that Maya Angelou said and felt, while also acknowledging Joan Walsh Anglund’s talent as likely inspiration for a phrase that stuck with her, and admit that I have not taken the time to vet the rest of the quotes that follow, from other writers and creatives! (Except for the second quote I include by Maya Angelou below. That is 100%, undoubtedly, attributed to her and well-documented as a Maya original. Hey, I had to check!)
This is a selection of some of my favorite quotes that I like to visit time and again, that inspire me to live a life of love, light, and creativity. I could probably write an essay about each, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll let you absorb them in a way that is most meaningful and relevant to you.
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
The position of the artist is humble. (They are) essentially a channel.
At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.
You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it. They just saw something. It seemed obvious to them… That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.
The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through.
Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.
Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything.
When it is working, you completely go into another place, you’re tapping into things that are totally universal, completely beyond your ego and your own self. That’s what it’s all about.
Which quotes speak to you? If you have a favorite quote on love, light, or the creative process, I’d love to hear it in a comment!!
ABOUT A TO Z CHALLENGE
This month, I am writing 26 posts starting with the letters A through Z, along with hundreds of other businesses and bloggers from around the world. I first ran into the A to Z Challenge many, many moons ago (circa 2011), when I was brand new to the online writing world. It was a great way to jumpstart my creative juices, and I had so much fun “meeting” men and women sharing what they love to do.
So when I opened Of Love + Light, I knew the A to Z Challenge would be the perfect complement to Daily Dose: Inspired. Enjoy!
(PS: I temporary pulled my O post, “On Love and Light,” as I rework it. I posted a small something through a headache, in order not to fall behind, but it was essentially a notice that I’d update it. I’ll let email subscribers know when it’s refreshed and back up online!)
ABOUT OF LOVE + LIGHT
Of Love + Light is a place for uplifting media, creative inspiration, art, nifty creative publications, and storytelling. I also offer editing, creativity coaching, and small business communications planning services. Founded by Alana Garrigues, Of Love + Light is your place to come, relax, feel inspired and loved, and share more of what’s good on this beautiful planet.
Of Love + Light has infinite possibilities, and YOU are a huge part of what this will look like. Want to talk? Send me an email!
“Quotes to Celebrate Love, Light and the Creative Process” is part of the Daily Dose: Inspired series. Looking for a small something to get you inspired to take on the day? This is the place to come for a photo, a song, a pick-me-up quote, a little slice of happy. At least, these are the things that inspire me!