Do you, like me, have a visceral negative reaction to words like mindfulness and meditation? Even though I know the research on how helpful mindfulness and meditation can be, part of me has a hard time getting past the corny, woo-woo factor.
Ever since I saw this video last week, I find myself rewatching it and rewatching it and rewatching it. In part, I must admit that I simply love Maya Angelou. Something about her has always spoken to me at a very deep level. But there is something else about this clip that is speaking to a very deep place inside me.
When Maya Angelou died in 2014 I re-read her autobiographical novels. I have always been drawn to understand the ways in which people are resilient in spite of, in great part because of, difficult and challenging lives - this is, no doubt, one of the big reasons I became a therapist. Maya Angelou had a way of articulating this duality of spirit in such clear and accessible ways. She put into beautiful words what is often simply a felt sense.
My last blog post was about the parts of our selves that show up as "guides from beyond" as Remi wrote it. His poem focuses mostly on what some might consider the more uncomfortable or unpleasant of the range of emotional experiences and how to invite these in and interpret their arrival in an accepting way. But in this video clip, Maya Angelou talks about another side.
Inside of us also reside internal representations of positive resources - rainbows amongst our clouds. People who have been kind and nurturing to us, understanding, forgiving, wise, and loving. These internal parts, too, make up we are, give us strength, perspective, and calm. They can be from the people in our lives that we know deeply and personally or even from figures we have never met, but have influenced our lives in other, deep ways - like Ms. Angelou has done in my life.
In 2014, as I was re-reading Why The Caged Bird Sings, I also happened to be pregnant. When struggling to find the perfect baby name, as all parents do, I was inspired to name her, in part, after Maya Angelou. So she carries this name with her. And I hope that Maya Angelou's written legacy speaks to her one day the way it has spoken to me and shaped me.
May we all recognize the ways others have shown up for us and been rainbows in our clouds. And may we all find ways to be that for others.
© Ellie Vargas, LCSW