In the midst of achievement and success, sometimes you’ll also encounter jealousy, anger, and competitive energy from unlikely sources. That’s what I’m dealing with now, bellas. That kind of negativity can be disquieting to the spirit.
On days when it gets to me, I tend to do as my mom suggests and shroud myself in prayer, or to reread the Desiderata — the poem that basically outlines the way I try to live my life. Or — as I told fellow blogger Game Well and Truly Over for his 2010 Music Project — I listen to a song that makes me feel protected.
Yesterday I found solace in the poetry of Maya Angelou. And this is probably a poem we’ve all read before, but it helped me out in a time of trouble this week. So I hope it does the same for you.
Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I had the privilege of seeing Maya Angelou speak and perform her work once, when she came to the University of Miami. What an aura she has. Such poise, such presence. I can only admire and aspire to be like that someday. Her words already speak volumes, but when you hear her perform her poetry, it resonates with even deeper meaning.
That particular poem speaks to my soul right now. And maybe it speaks to an experience you’re going through, too. For those who would wish you ill, shrug off their negative vibes and ill wishes. And know that in the path ahead you’re going to encounter slings, arrows, and snakes in the grass. And still, despite all of that, we’ll rise.