Maya Angelou died Wednesday at 86. Truth to tell, I know very little about her and yet what I know makes me love her as if I knew a thing or two. As with others, I make her up based on almost nothing ... black woman poet, activist, writer, actress and a good deal more perhaps. I make her up and am drawn to what I make up.
Six autobiographies?! For that alone I would honor her honesty.
But otherwise my made-up Maya Angelou is a spare branch, a creation I somehow insist on making because I love what I have made up. A woman of courage and sass and laughter. A black woman who did not play the "black" card. A woman who seemed unencumbered by her accomplishments. A person I imagine I would like to know and am glad I did not.
A ... person ... of ... substance ....
And God how I love people of substance! Just being on the same planet with them lightens my day. No need to play at substance when substance is the substance of the substance.
I know there are many people who knew her better and might yank my inventive chain and bring this person into a more even-tempered focus. An egotist, perhaps, or a preen-er, or some other facts and figures that would be less adoring than what I have made up and adore.
Like a patient waiting in the dentist's office, I have read a half of some old article and then it is my turn -- time to set the magazine aside and allow the accumulated but incomplete information to wisp away like some coitus interruptus ... what need to remember the joke without a punch line, an article without a "the end?"
Would I like Maya Angelou more or less if I knew her better? Probably less, which is why I am content to know less ... and adore.
What does it mean to be a person of substance? I know it is gets wild applause on my applause-meter, but what is it? Is it perhaps like the menu in some effete upscale restaurant: "If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it."? Is it like the Supreme Court justice's alleged assessment of pornography: "I may not know what it is, but I know it when I see it"?
No, I do not know who Maya Angelou is or was. I acknowledge the flimsy nature of my appreciation and adoration.
But I cannot imagine I am much different from others ... adoration feels too good to deny. And at my age, objects of adoration, like people of substance, are few and far between.
I own a paperback of one of her autobiographies, read it twice. An amazing life and admirable individual. I especially like that she told Al Sharpton that he lacks women in his organization and must correct himself before he can correct the world. Fearlessly honest and determined in her effort to do the world a favor that wasn't owed. She said the felt that she owed the world her story, but that was a kindness on her part in my opinion. She was kind, and that's the highest praise i can think of.ReplyDelete