Farewell to ‘a woman who teaches by being’

Maya Angelou died today. Quotes keep bubbling up into my Facebook news feed — verses of her poetry, words of wisdom, eternal truths about life and love and lost luggage and rainbows and the human condition. All streaming into my consciousness like rays of enlightenment. I think she’d be tickled pink by this massive outpouring of love.

I chose this one as my status: “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” I earnestly believe in those little lights, all seven billion of them. The light lays dormant in almost everyone, IMO, but it’s never too late to let that sucker shine for all its worth.

Another quote posted by a dear friend caught my attention.

“I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by being.”

“a woman who teaches by being.”

I’ve always believed in living by example. Our culture that prizes the HEY LOOK AT ME I’M THE BEST AND I’M A SUPERIOR HUMAN AND EVERYONE ELSE SUCKS SO GIVE ME STUFF attitude doesn’t resonate with me. I wonder, pretty frequently, isn’t it enough to just be me? Not better or less than anyone else, just ME in all my earnest, sincere human glory?

I think just BEING is the part of life we tend to neglect like our daily vitamins or thirsty houseplants. We’re so busy striving and doing and planning and acquiring, we forget why we’re really here: to be. To be the best version of ourselves. To shine our glorious light forth into the world like a beacon of spirit. To glow with such intense fervor we illuminate the way for others. To be the 75,000 watt bulb for everyone we encounter.

When we teach by being, we touch lives. IRL lives — not just faces masked by a computer monitor (though I’m not knocking the power of the internet). When we teach by being we change the world in ways we can’t measure or count like so many Instagram followers or Facebook likes.

This, I’m sure of. And you can’t be happy if you’re not being you. Being you teaches others about being themselves. And that’s no small thing.

That’s what Maya Angelou did. And that’s what I hope to do every. damn. day. until my “wisps of glory” go back to where they came from.

So RIP Maya, you luminescent spirit, you. Thank you for just being you.


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