Maya Angelou

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. – Maya Angelou

The poet Maya Angelou died this week at the age of eighty-six. While she was certainly not a vegan, her words have often made me stop and take notice. The quote above is a good example.

You’ll hear the words “thrive” and “compassion” many times as a vegan. They’re in book and blog titles, on messagewear, and forever inscribed in ink on body parts throughout the world. They are words that you can’t help but connect to at some point; after all, aren’t we all looking to thrive? Aren’t we all looking for some compassion?

I hate to sound melodramatic about my pre-vegan days, but going on five years since I could use that label, it’s hard to remember my mindset. Dare I say, life as a vegan is filled with more passion? Have I ever been as vehement about something as I am about how we treat animals?

Humor. I’d like to think I have a great sense of humor. I am as dry and sarcastic as they come, and yet, I am not above laughing at toilet humor. One of the fondest moments of my life was sitting front row and watching the incomparable George Carlin sound off for eighty or ninety minutes a couple of years before he died. I have walked through the park with headphones on and chuckled at a David Sedaris essay. Humor is so important – and with days spent speaking out for those with no voice, it’s a needed respite.

Style. I am not a fashionista. I see no point in two hundred dollar handbags or five hundred dollar coats. I get my hair cut at Supercuts. But the older I get, the more it becomes clear: style is not merely about your appearance. There’s a style in the way you speak, the way you write, and the way you act. I hope that as I get older, I do it with some sense of style worth noting.

Goodbye and thank you, Dr. Angelou, for making me stop and think, today and on days before. We were lucky to have heard you.

Photo credit: York College ISLGP via Flickr