“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.” ~Maya Angelou
Last night, I went to a free public lecture at the university I used to attend. Toward the end, this quote was shared.
Usually, we tend to interpret quotes like this in a positive light. That’s the purpose, isn’t it? I, for one, used to. But yesterday, in a epiphanic flash, I saw how true this is for all interactions – positive and negative. The lion came for a sudden visit, bringing with him a colourful, heavy splash of emotions. Everything except my body abandoned the lecture all together – but just for a moment. I came back because the lecture was interesting. The lion lingered, but at a distance.
Later, I looked up Maya Angelou quotes. Some I’m not sure if I like or dislike, but I see the depth of truth they hold for me now, which I would not have seen a few years ago. Others I’m forced to question, because of my life experiences.
Here are a few that resonate with truth and hope:
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
And three that bring with them baggage and many questions:
“A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.”
“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination of hope.”
But – what does it mean to be wise? How do we develop the strength to refuse victimhood? What is a victim? And what does it mean to be defeated?
What is love, really? Sure, love gives us unmistakable strength to do, say, and accept a lot. Perhaps too much, in some situations. Does love always have hope? What is hope, anyway? Is hope the destination, or is it the path? Or is it both? Is it a black and white situation, where we know this is what love is, or is this what we feel love should be?