Oprah Talks to Maya Angelou
Oprah: I know there's a time where you really come into yourself.
Maya: Yes. In the fifties, you have your beauty as a treat. I thought that until I hit the sixties. What do you say, Jay! In your sixties, life decides to reward you with certain kinds of profound appreciation, so that people name their children and schools and libraries after you! And you still have your sexuality and your sensuality.
Oprah: You still do.
Maya: If you want your sexuality, you still have it. I'm sorry to say that when some people get to age 50, they say, "Well, that's the end, I'll never have to do that again." They lay down first and get up last! But in your sixties, everything is sweeter. You have more time.
Maya: Oh, yes.
Oprah: Do you have any regrets?
Maya: Not a lot. I wish I'd been kinder and funnier, wiser and more generous.
Oprah: Forget that. People flock to your home because of your generosity. Generosity must be a life principle for you.
Maya: Absolutely. I learned it by experience. Again, when I was in my twenties, I was so poor. My son was 4, and we would go to Unity Church, which I am still a part of. If I had seven dollars, I would give a little more of it to the church than I could afford. Then we'd walk from the church back to Safeway.
Oprah: You remember the days of having only seven dollars?
Maya: Absolutely. And no bank account. I'd go to the grocery store with my son and buy two minute steaks with a lot of gristle. I wouldn't eat my steak, and Guy would say, "Ma, you'd better have some of your steak." I'd say, "No, you have that. I had something earlier." And he would inhale it. By nightfall, someone would phone and say, "Listen, I just stopped by the supermarket and I'm on my way past your house, and there was a sale on hamburger meat, so I picked some up for you and I'll drop it off." All my life it has been that way.
If you have a napkin, you need another napkin to receive back all the blessings you'll get. And you keep giving. Then you need a towel to receive all the gifts. And you continue giving. Finally, you need a tablecloth. And you continue giving—not stupidly, but you give. And when you give, you finally have to move out and get a second house, and a third house and a fourth.
Oprah: So you learned to give because of what was given to you.
Maya: Yes, because so much was given to me. It's amazing. It is a no—fail, incontrovertible reality: If you get, give. If you learn, teach. You can't do anything with that except do it.
Oprah: That is it! Thank you, Miss Maya.
Maya: Thank you, Miss Oprah.