This I Believe

Alvin - Alexandria, Virginia
Entered on September 15, 2007

I believe Maya Angelou saved my life.

When I was in college, I had a class one semester that was out on the other side of campus and it was also by far the earliest class I ever had. Typically classes started at 10am, but this class started at eight – a whole two hours earlier than usual. It was compounded by the fact that I had to walk down a very long hallway called “the infinite corridor.” Needless to say, it was a long walk.

Although I arrived to campus before 8am every morning to get to class on time, my mind really didn’t wake up until about 11 or so. I’d walk down the hallways like a zombie, and so did the few other students who were unfortunate like me with an early class and were robbed of sleep. This was also about the time that the school administrators and staff showed up, so this early morning hallway crowd was different from the usual student crowd that filled the hallways later in the day. Funny thing was, I saw the same zombie expressions in them. I was doing my sleepwalking routine for a semester, but these people were doing it for who knows how long.

Have you ever drove down the same road or walked down the same street over and over again, and there may be a billboard that changed but it took you days or weeks before you realized it? That was the same kind of experience I had when I saw this one quote from Maya Angelou posted on a door at the end of the infinite corridor:

Lift up your eyes upon

The day breaking for you.

Give birth again

To the dream.

I’ve actually always read it every day in passing, but it didn’t really register until the semester was almost over. I’m just glad that my mind ever registered the quote at all. Every day I did my routine of showing up to class at 8am but not really waking up until about 11 or so, letting those three hours of my day be spent inefficiently. I was on autopilot during the mornings, and that habit was starting to be a pattern with other parts of the day with me. When I was walking down the hallway in the early mornings with the school employees, I saw the path that I was heading. To be fair, I’m knew that not all the school employees were asleep in life, such as the one who put the Maya Angelou quote on the hallway door, but I felt like many of the others were, and I was going to be one of them. I had dreams, aspirations, goals that I wanted to accomplish someday in life. Every day was currency that I could spend or invest for my dreams. Or, I could choose to let it go to waste.

That poem woke me up. I now meditate when I wake up every day, which for me is like rebooting my system and starting anew, clear of the tangles of yesterday and refreshed with the optimism of knowing that if I choose, I can be one day closer to making my dreams come true.