Yet to SING.

I’ve read the book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou twice now. Once in middle school and once just a few months ago. Each time I’m moved by how someone who has started with such humble beginnings and been through such emotional turmoil as a young person has come out to be such an idol in the literary world. My favorite poem of hers is Still I Rise. A lot of her work is inspiring because it speaks of being beaten down by life but still continuing to get back up. It’s not angry either which I feel can take away from the message. 

I think a lot of my writing is too full of angst to have a clear message. Quiet conviction speaks so much louder than someone who is screaming to be heard. You don’t have to beat your point of view into someone’s ears for them to hear you. Instead of Maya Angelou screaming, she sings. Her words hit a page like a beautiful composition. She hits the highest octaves. 

Forever an Idol…. and I’ll leave you with my favorite poem. 

Still I Rise- Maya Angelou

I’ve always loved this poem and was reminded of it after reading a blog I follow regularly that was reminiscent of the tone. 

 

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
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise. 

Maya Angelou

Anger Only Kills the One Who Holds Onto It

You know what they say about anger?  Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned. Buddha. That has definitely been the truth for quite awhile on my end. I’ve held all this anger about what I feel is unfair for so long and instead of anyone even noticing, I’ve just been seething on the inside. The list of things that has made me angry could go on and on but often the things that make me the angriest are the things where there is no one to blame or you feel guilty for blaming. 

My father has recently been diagnosed with his second bout of stage four cancer. His first go around with this insidious disease was with throat cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes in 2007-2008. This time it is his tongue. It’s a little more sensitive this time as they didn’t have to remove any organ tissue last time and he did have radiation. Because he had radiation with his first round, they won’t allow him to go through radiation again with this round. In everyone’s words that have heard what the doctors have said, ” It doesn’t look good.” That never really gives anyone much hope, so I try to remember that what doesn’t look good doesn’t necessarily mean anything because he has beat this once and hopefully will again. 

I’ve never had a terribly close relationship with my father as I spent most of my childhood with my mother and my parents were divorced by the time I was three years old. I did move with my dad and his current wife of the time when I was twelve but that definitely wasn’t a bonding experience. I always wanted to be daddy’s little girl especially since I was the only girl with three brothers in tow. But alas, it never happened. Instead I was just someone who couldn’t communicate with him just as much as he couldn’t communicate with me. Even today with this horrible news looming overhead, I still rush to get off the phone because I struggle for things to say to him. 

I suppose the anger comes from wanting to have had a meaningful relationship and now possibly having that chance ripped away from me forever. The last time I saw my dad in person was at our extended family reunion this past May. It was just a chance that I was there because I usually avoid the reunion like the plague. I’ve become somewhat of a social recluse over the years because I found that the more people you let in, the more it hurts when they disappoint you. However, I was there this year because I was having somewhat of my own crisis and I had run back to the familiar. So there I was at the reunion and seeing my brothers and my dad and my stepmother, as well as other family members that I haven’t seen in ages. It was nice to catch up. 

At the end of the reunion, we’d all go back to our lives and forget each other existed as we once again became entangled in our own webs of the day to day. However, upon getting ready to get in our cars… my dad embraced me. He squeezed me and he said, ” I love you, I hope you know that.” I had heard him say those words before but for some reason this time they just meant more. I was going through a very raw, emotional time myself so I just wanted anyone to love me. Who better to say that to me than the very person I just wanted to love me all along? 

It’s a very deep wound for a daughter to feel abandoned by her father. A father is supposed to be her protector in life. But I never really felt that, I always felt kept at a distance. My father is definitely a guy’s guy. He hunts, fishes, camps, hikes. My love of nature definitely comes from him, but I still was never all gung ho to get on a boat and fish for hours. I was most likely sitting there with a book or opting out of the trip altogether. My father did teach me how to drive though. I even remember him taking me driving in the snow so that I would know how to get out of a predicament if I needed to or avoid an accident even. 

He is a very stoic person. I am a very emotional person. I feel things so deeply and passionately that it can be uncomfortable for people who choose not to express their feelings. I was always writing in journals, reading, out with friends. He was always working hard at his job and just wanted to check out when he got home. He just wanted to make sure I got my chores done. I don’t begrudge him for the person he is. I quite admire him. He has a wonderful work ethic, he is highly intelligent, and he has an uncanny knack for picking up a new hobby as he quickly tires of the one he currently is obsessed with ( this sounds familiar, too.) He is an incredibly strong person even when he doesn’t want to be. Resilient, too. 

I’m not only angry about never having had a relationship with him, but that I may never get to. I did,however, have a close relationship with one of the men in my mother’s life. His name was Ray Yount and he unfortunately passed away in 2008 right at the height of my father’s first battle with cancer. It was a devastating loss and still is. I guess I never reconciled that loss because here I am standing face to face hoping I don’t have to experience this again. Anger is one of the steps to grieving as I found out when I went to grief counseling after Ray’s death. Anger kills the person who holds it inside. 

I’m angry because I’ve already lost so much. I’m tired of losing.