What Dr. Maya Angelou and Mahatma Gandhi teach me about stepping outside the box

I decided to take on this month’s Blogapalooz-Hour challenge. We have one hour to write about a topic and promptly publish it. While I hold the pressure to do this (this is a stressful experience at the moment), I reflect on this month’s topic. We are to write about someone or some event that had an impact on us. With the death of Maya Angelou, I have been thinking about her since I heard the news. She was an inspiration to many individuals and a person who allowed her voice to be heard in poetic and powerful ways. (See, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.) Individuals such as Dr. Angelou carry a legacy and somehow spark the light of the next individual to carry that candle. I wondered about additional individuals that also did this for me.

The second person that comes to mind is Mahatma Gandhi. Hearing about his life and struggles and how he led a country to freedom, that’s pretty impressive.  In many ways, his actions impacted my life, as his quest to free Mother India allowed me to be free from British rule. I’m not sure if I had yet pondered what that means or even the weight of that realization.  Yet I realize that my life somehow was to be different, had my parents been in a country that was under British rule. It is difficult to be the same person you are if your circumstances are different.

As someone who has only read about his life, I can only imagine the pressure and demands that were placed on him, the stress he may have experienced. I can only imagine the pressure of being the idealized leader that is was. Interestingly, I read an article in the Indian Tribune that spoke of this. India is waiting for the next “messiah”, the next individual who will help shape India into the country it’s meant to be. In some ways, I see how individuals that cross my path, make an impact do the same in my world. While I have never met Mahatma Gandhi, many of his words I carry and believe.

One of my favorites is “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. I find myself thinking about this quote at this moment, ironic, as the past couple weeks have been nudging me to think outside the box. My box. During this time, in conversations with Joelyne Marshall, Jimmy Greenfield, Laura Enright and a couple others, I’ve realized I’ve got some “boxes” of my own that recently came to light, specifically, about writing.

And when I look at the lives of Dr. Angelou and Mahatma Gandhi, these are two iconic individuals that really stepped outside “boxes” that others imposed on them and “boxes” they may have had about themselves. They really spoke their own truths and the truths of countless others. They stepped outside this boxes to shine a light in the darkness and provide hope and lead others to break those chains that bind.

In honor of them, my quest is to break the chains of my “writing boxes” and step beyond them. For more on this journey, feel free to subscribe to my posts and learn more about this process. Write on.

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