Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou: In her words

Posted By on Wed, May 28, 2014 at 12:46 PM

Author, poet and Winston-Salem resident Maya Angelou passed away today at the age of 86, leaving behind a large and varied body of work that included autobiographies, essays, poems, screenplays, albums ... and lots of choice quotes. From the hundreds of memorable phrases she uttered, here are 25 of the best, touching on friendship, feminism, food and other assorted topics.

Maya Angelou
  • Photo: Dwight Carter / Random House
  • Maya Angelou

1. "I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights."

2. "A friend may be waiting behind a stranger's face."

3. "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

4. "Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option."

5. "I am grateful to be a woman. I must have done something great in another life."

6. "A wise woman wishes to be no one's enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone's victim."

7. "I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass."

8. "There is a very fine line between loving life and being greedy for it."

9. "Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant."

10. "I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back."

11. "Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends."

12. "Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible."

13. "Black people comprehend the South. We understand its weight. It has rested on our backs... I knew that my heart would break if ever I put my foot down on that soil, moist, still, with old hurts. I had to face the fear/loathing at its source or it would consume me whole."

14. "Eating is so intimate. It's very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you're inviting a person into your life."

15. "I love a Hebrew National hot dog with an ice-cold Corona, no lime. If the phone rings, I won't answer until I'm done."

16. "The best comfort food will always be greens, cornbread, and fried chicken."

17. "A cynical young person is almost the saddest sight to see, because it means that he or she has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing."

18. "Self-pity in its early stage is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable."

19. "If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities."

20. "Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall in love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin - find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less."

21. "In a magazine, one can get - from cover to cover - 15 to 20 different ideas about life and how to live it."

22. "Some critics will write 'Maya Angelou is a natural writer,' which is right after being a natural heart surgeon."

23. "If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don't be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning 'Good morning' at total strangers."

24. "If you're serious, you really understand that it's important that you laugh as much as possible and admit that you're the funniest person you ever met. You have to laugh. Admit that you're funny. Otherwise, you die in solemnity."

25. "My life has been one great big joke, a dance that's walked, a song that's spoke. I laugh so hard I almost choke when I think about myself."

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