It should come as no surprise that Dr. Maya Angelou was a lover of country music. Country music is all about telling a story. It is not about degrading any particular species, popping bottles or the flashy things many other genres are associated with. This genre of music talks about the simple things of life, real experiences and tends to depict a simple, more genuine life.
Dr. Angelou was a wise woman who knew the power of words and the vigor of her story. She talked about things from racism to the power of love and the strength to overcome. She was a phenomenal woman with the power of E. F. Hutton, “When she spoke, we listened.” Dr. Angelou was one who would share her story with a compassionate perspective, equipped with a brutal honesty.
This legendary presence understood the power of words and knew how to use them. As children many were taught “Sticks and stones may break your bones but names – or words – will never hurt you.” As we continued to grow and experience life we quickly learned, although this motto had great intentions, it simply was not true. Even the strongest people walk away with internal scars when words are misused as weapons of mass destructions just as the weakest people walk away empowered when words are used to uplift and encourage.
Angelou was a teacher, even in her passing this legend continues to teach while offering the world a much needed reminder of the power of words. This wise woman’s words transcended class and race. Her style of communication was simple and easily understood, yet it that paved the way for future generations of readers and writers around the globe.
What this iconic messenger left us was an appreciation, not just about what we choose to communicate, but of the importance of how we communicate along with the impact we make with the words we choose. Too many communicators have forgotten that compassion should always be the root cause for all we seek to say. Here are three points to consider as we embrace the legacy this massive communicator left us:
- Words are a sign of what is going on inside: Words do not just pop in our head right before we allow them to slide through our lips or flow through the ink of a pin. Our words are born from the part of us known as our soul – our mind, will and emotions. Words are personal and are the place where our past experiences connect with our future potential. Our words are a symptom or sign of what is truly going on inside.
- We must change our words before we can change our actions: Our words are as seeds planted in the ground. To attempt to change our behavior without first addressing our words is like chopping down a tree but leaving the roots in the ground. The harsh reality is we are the sum total of the words we speak. Every time our words are spoken we are indeed planting a seed containing that very reality. If we do not like our actions we must first change our words and the type of seeds we are planting.
- Our words frame our tomorrows and fuel our expectations: Whether we choose to accept it or not, it is a universal law we have what we say. Our consciousness leaks out with every single word we speak. With our words we speak internally and audibly over and over and these same words have shaped our expectations in life. To get something different will require a different conversation.
Our words can heal and they can hurt. A true sign of maturity is the ability to govern and be accountable for the words we speak. Dr. Angelou taught us it takes discipline and discernment to learn how to use our words as a source that uplifts the world around us.
Watch your thoughts, for they become words
Watch your words, for they become actions
Watch your actions, for they become habits
Watch your habits, for they become character
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny
Former president William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton said during her memorial service, “Maya Angelou was the voice of God and God wanted his voice back.” She was a great orator, poet, singer and actress who allowed her words to truly direct her destiny.
Dr. Angelou, the queen of storytelling was indeed a lover of country music. Country music is more than tractors and cowboy hats; it is about a real life. This genre of music talks about the simple things of life along with real experiences. It should come as no surprise this Phenomenal Woman loved the art of country music because she was one who shared her story with vigor and honest endearment. Dr. Maya Angelou understood the influence of words and the art of stringing them together to share a powerful message to the world.
Opinion By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)