As one of my favorite poets, I find myself coming across her words whenever I need inspiration. Her poems speak to me at the times when I need to be reminded of the great things that words and writing can do for the world. Her poems tell me that though speaking out may not let me words fly smoothly and create facades out of my thoughts, it is through writing some voicse can truly be heard and used.
Today, as I read “Caged Bird,” it was as if I was reading it for the first time. New sets of eyes ran over the words and saw them representing something completely new. In the past these words have allowed me to relate to them in some form or another. The bird singing of hope and praise for a mountaintop it may never fly to, and of a wind that may never grace its wing. I saw myself in this situation when I was unable to swim anymore. Caged mentally on land, when all I wanted was to be in the water. I felt for the bird, seeing that it’s hope and faith were almost painful, dangerous even.
But as I looked at these words today, I was reminded of something even, a cage that people place themselves in everyday. Angelou’s poem has long been praised for its imagery and rhythm, both illustrating a song itself speaking of oppression and slavery. There are times when forces are outside of our control, when we ourselves feel as if our wings have been clipped, limiting our abilities. What I see more often than none, however, is people voluntarily clipping their own wings. Yes, this means we purposefully and willingly allow ourselves to be limited and not reach the heights of our own potential.
The world is filled with so much noise that at times I know it can be hard to hear your own voice, to know what you feel passionate about, and to know, as we relate back to Maya Angelou, what you sing for. The world is full of so many of you who have a voice that needs to be heard, that the world needs at this time, but more often than none we silence it, we allow other people to silence it, or we dismiss it.
The voice I am talking about is not the voice we use to tell people what they want to hear. It’s not the voice we use when we project how we feel onto other people and it’s definitely not the voice we use when we are solely trying to impress everyone else.
It’s the voice that no one has heard before maybe. It’s that whisper that we feel drawn to, but can’t explain why. Painting, drawing, singing, dancing, public speaking, writing, etc. It’s the things we would do for free, when we should be doing homework, when we are in our rooms and don’t feel the pressure or need of approval. It is the flow that comes with doing something that you cannot explain why, but it just feels right. There is magic in that. There is power in that. The world NEEDS that. The world needs you to follow your voice.
Maya Angelou says “The caged bird sings with a fearful trill, of things unknown but longed for still, and his tune is heard on the distant hill, for the caged bird sings of freedom.” At this time in the world, we do not need anymore individuals who place fear before their passion. We need a world of individuals who look at fear and brush it aside. We need a world of individuals who are not afraid to be outliers and free thinkers regardless of what others might think. We need a world of people who support the passions of their friends instead of remain quiet or submissive when they see other people put down or quieted. We need a world of individuals to use their voice to sing for change and freedoms many of us do not know yet. We need a world of people who believe in themselves, who unlock their own cage, and take flight. We are all capable of greatness, but it starts from within. Don’t let the voices of others cause so much noise that you can’t hear yourself.
Take a moment. Stop and listen. You may be surprised what you hear when you quiet the noise.