Through her writing, Maya Angelou taught us many things about how to relate with the world. The celebrated poet, author and civil rights activist, who died Wednesday at age 86, shared a lesson she would give to her younger self in the inaugural edition of "CBS This Morning's" "Note to Self" series.
Here is Angelou's full letter to her 15-year-old self:
Dear me, myself then,
First, I know that you know how to listen. When I was 8 years old I became a mute and was a mute until I was 13, and I thought of my whole body as an ear, so I can go into a crowd and sit still and absorb all sound. That talent or ability has lasted and served me until today.
Once you appreciate one of your blessings, one of your senses, your sense of hearing, then you begin to respect the sense of seeing and touching and tasting, you learn to respect all the senses.
Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin - find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.
The person may have keener eyesight, a better ear, the person might have a more live body and can dance, but the person cannot be more human than you.
That is very important because that ensures you that you are a human being and nothing human can be alien to you.
You will be able to go around the world, learning languages, speaking to everybody, because no one can be more human than you or be less human.
They can be meaner or crueler, or sweeter or prettier, younger, richer, but they can't be more human than you. Remember that.