It’s no secret that I read a lot. Often they make the books into movies. Often I’m disappointed. For me, the words seem to paint a more realistic picture. A vivid representation of the person or people inside the story. Not tainted or swayed by the pressures of Hollywood. I wonder when we were first sold the idea that people, in order to be a hero, or heroine, had to “look the part.” I, I say with great fortune, have lived a life to the contrary.
I have written about so many that have saved me through the years. Mr. Whitman, the caretaker of the cemetery, dirtied and slumped from the weight of burying the people from town. My grandfather, callused hand reaching behind his stained overalls to bring me along, bring me through. Chubbied Grandmother wiping kitchen hands on apron, just to give us something sweet. Wearied teachers, still finding a way to say the words that just might carry us. Tear-stained mother who laughed with unfaltering grace.
So it came as a surprise to me, the woman in New York standing in front of my portrait of Maya Angelou — a sage I return to again and again. She read the words and seemed to be moved. She praised them. I thanked her. She wanted to buy copies, but whispering sheepishly now, “maybe without the picture.” Whispering even lower now, “you know, maybe she could be a bit polarizing to my customers.”
I laughed. How ironically and completely opposite of the words that she claimed to love.
Kindness. Truth. Beauty. Wisdom. Hope. Leadership. Strength. Love. It comes in all sorts of “packaging.” Each a gift.
Maya would have forgiven her. As she always said, “When we know better, we do better.” I put the words and paintings before you, before myself, daily, in the hopes of doing just that… better.