words of wisdom

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

 

While I’ve always enjoyed reading quotes from luminaries in various fields, their word-for-word wit and wisdom has seldom stuck with me. A given quote will remain in my mind for a few minutes, hours, or (at most) days. That’s why the quote above stands apart from the others; it comments on the very nature of remembering words. Angelou points out that the words one uses usually won’t be committed to the listener's memory, but the intention behind them will.

 

I first read this quote over 10 years ago and was ambivalent about it. It’s only after building up a certain amount of life experience that I realize just how accurate it is. When I think of the people I’ve admired in my life, I can’t attribute a quote to most. I don’t remember what Mr. Shirk, a beloved 5th grade teacher, said about my journal on the Oregon Trail; I remember the feeling of him being a sweet-yet-driven, earnest-yet-sardonic educator. I can’t recall the first thing Principal Tammy Hannah, my first boss, said to me, but I can recall her grit, commitment, and tenacity. We remember those who challenge us, who expose their own vulnerability by risking having faith in us.