When the flash from the camera died, Maya Angelou was escorted backstage to make her grand appearance. The stage manager led me out of the green room and planted me in a seat so close to the stage that I was sure her message would bounce directly into my ears before it reached anyone else. I needed to hear her.
6 hours prior
The day started on the wrong foot and seemed to deteriorate with each passing hour. I was nervously waiting for an important call from Dr. Angelou’s assistant to tell me if I was going to be granted access to to see Dr. Angelou or not… I felt like my life depended on this call so every 5 seconds, I glared expectantly at my phone. The seconds rolled into minutes. The minutes became hours. My spirits sank lower and lower. Oh God, I am not going to meet her. I am really not going to see her. How can I come so far and miss another opportunity to meet Maya Angelou… I was hypertensively nervous.
That is the nature of this dream I am pursuing. The highs are great. I land a great interview, I don’t sleep until I edit the work, post it and then bask in the glory of Facebook likes (sad but true). The lows are abysmally lonely. I deal with soulless web developers who take money without producing the work. I send tons of emails to managers and PR agents and I do not get a reply. On a decent day, I wait outside a hotel for hours for a ‘get’. On a bad day, people promise me an interview and at the last minute, the rag is pulled from underneath my feet. I often sit alone in my living room and lick my wounds and ask myself why I do this. I was mulling over this very question in my cousin’s Springfield apartment, staring at a phone that won’t ring. Admittedly, I was a bag of nerves and as I braced myself for disappointment I began to relive every setback I have ever experienced. I did this until I felt so sorry for myself that pelts of tears hit the pacquet floor like a torrential rainstorm. When the last shred of hope evaporated from my body, I decided to break up with God
” Dear God,
you can’t possibly love me because if you did things would not be this difficult. Why must everything be so hard. Really Why? Why can’t things just come easily to me for once. A few years ago, I asked you align my path with my passion, instead, you put me on this bumpy road where the potholes are steep with disappointments, heartbreak and setbacks. As for today, I have reached my breaking point. I am tired so please take away this dream and the passion that comes with it because when you give us the desires of our heart, you match it with the courage to pursue them. I can’t find my courage and I am tired of trying, so just take it back. I don’t want it anymore.”
In between the sniffles I heard my ringtone. A text had come through. it read. “Dr. Angelou will c u. Go 2 venue ASAP .” I immediately dried my snort stained face and wondered why I had ever doubted God.
By now, you have read of my euphoric meeting with Maya Angelou in the green room. However, even after the meeting, I knew I needed to hear more words of wisdom because as a child of Faith, I realised that I had lost sight of everything that mattered.
The curtains parted and Dr. Angelou stood up to a thunderous ovation. When she reclined into her chair she told us that she was going to talk to about about how to have an attitude of gratitude.
My pores dilated and I soaked in her sagesse. Here are a few of the memorable things she shared:
Someone else was there before you. Lonely before you, passed over before you. And yet miraculously, somehow they survived and did better than that, they thrived. These words are now etched in my psyche. Whenever I think I am having a bad day, I remember that someone has been here before and yet they thrived.
Make thank you fall of your lips all the time. You are not lessened by it, you are increased by it.
With courage you can live a life with distinction. That moved me.
How brilliant you are to dare to live your life.
Have an attitude of gratitude
She took the time to tell us about difficulties she has experienced and shared with us how writing her blessings on a yellow piece of paper changed her perspective about life. Have an attitude of gratitude she repeated. Then, she reminded us of all the people who were really having a bad day. Those dealing with cancer, death and real misfortune yet they still remembered to count their blessings. Have an attitude of gratitude, she repeated.
The message was sealed in my heart.
Gratitude used to be an after thought – something I felt once I achieved a goal. After hearing Dr. Angelou speak, I decided that instead of breaking up with God when I hit my threshold, I was going to have an attitude of gratitude, irrespective of the outcome. I decided to go back on that bumpy road. I went online and booked a multi city trip around the horn of Africa. I did not know a soul in these countries, but I surrendered all my goals to God and thanked him for providing. It is with a grateful heart that I say that because He is a forgiving God, a faithful God, and a loving God, in the scorching deserts of Sudan my thirst was quenched with water from springs that never ran dry. I met film makers and visionaries who want to take their country to new heights. In the mountains of Ethiopia I never stumbled. I was greeted with grace and kindness and I interviewed volunteers and entrepreneurs redefining the course of their country. In the Savannahs of South Sudan where I had no money, I was sustained by the generosity of strangers and I met phenomenal people who are transforming this new nation. In Djibouti , they enveloped me with love. At every step of this journey, in the peaks and the valleys, I remembered the words of Dr. Angelou and I gave thanks. Everyday was a GREAT Day and I can’t wait to share the details with you.