Through the crests and troughs of life, if there are two values that see us through, they are Faith & Fortitude. Many years ago, my mother handed me a book and asked me to read it when I had the time. She said it had the power to change my life. The book was called “What I know for sure” by Oprah Winfrey, and true to what she said, this book did change me…so much so that I now carry it around everywhere like my very own Bible. The novel unravelled and led me to the wisdom that would otherwise take a lifetime to learn… but most importantly of all, this book led me to Maya Angelou!
Letter to My Daughter – Review
Throughout her book, Oprah describes Maya Angelou as her guiding light, her friend, her confidant, and pillar of strength. After “What I know for sure,” I practically considered Oprah to be my role-model, and it just made me all the more curious to fathom what would Oprah’s own role-model be like!
A quest to learn more about Maya Angelou led me to her book Letter to My Daughter originally published in September 2008. From her childhood tales of living with her grandmother in Arkansas to facing the world as a 6 ft. tall & awkward teenager, to her “first experience of loveless sex paradoxically leaving her with her greatest gift – her son,” to moving on with even greater strength after a near-death abduction and coping with suicidal thoughts & utter despair. Maya has gone from strength to strength & done it all with aplomb!
As you read the book, you’ll find a little part of yourself in her stories. Her writing is simple and yet so profoundly deep. My favourite lines in the book are from her chapter Porgy & Bess – Maya writes, “The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm & amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright & promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of Gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am Blessed.”
Powerful, poetic, sensitive, and warm – this book comes with so much love that you feel like it’s your own mother, aunt, or grandmother writing to you. It is one you’ll want to pass on to all your loved ones.
Some other thoughtful messages she leaves you with:
- On remembering your roots: However painful it may be, to never forget your roots… or where you come from. In her words, “My soul should always look back and wonder at the mountains I had climbed and the rivers I had forged and the challenges which still await down the road. I am strengthened by that knowledge.“
- On Simplicity: That the epitome of sophistication is in utter simplicity
- On Self-defence: That even though we must not seek violence, if ever it comes down to it – we must care enough for ourselves that we can be ready & come to our own defence when & wherever needed.
“Letter to My Daughter” brings together 80 years of a life well-lived, a life rife with struggle and the fortitude to face that struggle with your head held high.
These nuggets of wisdom are a must-read for all… If you’re going through a tough period in your life, all you need to do is have faith & read her story. As she writes in her words, “I am a black woman, tall as a cypress, strong, beyond all definition, still defying place and time and circumstance, assailed, impervious, indestructible… Look on me and be renewed.”