Throwback Thursday: The Epitome Of Sophistication

“Senegal” is one of the stories that Maya Angelou wrote in her book entitled “Letter To My Daughter”.

Maya was invited to a formal dinner incby her friend whom she met in Paris. She described that their living room was beautiful furnished, and guests were enjoying a full-blown party. As she walked into another room, she noticed that guests were standing along the wall and carefully not to step on the beautiful oriental rug in the center of the room.



Maya immediately thought about a women in Egypt, who would not allow her servants to walk on her rugs… thus, it “plummeted in my estimation”, Maya said.  So, she decided to walk across the center of the rug, and did so back and forth four, five times while admiring the paintings on the wall.

A few minutes later, when Maya was engaging a conversation with a guest, two maids came in the room. They rolled up the rug that she had walked on and carried it away.  Almost immediately, they came back with another exquisite rug and carefully spread it on the floor, then began to place glasses, silverware, and wine on the carpet.  When the dishes were brought to the carpet, the hostess announced that the dinner was “For our sister from America.” She waved at Maya and said, “For Maya Angelou.”

Maya recalled…as all the guests sank to the floor her face and neck burned.  “I sat, but I found swallowing hard to do. The food had to force its way over that knot of embarrassment.”  She continued:

In an unfamiliar culture, it is wise to offer no innovations, no suggestions, or lessons.  The epitome of sophistication is utter simplicity.”

There had been times that I had the urge to walk on someone’s “carpet” based on my own assumption or judgement, Maya’s words always reminds me, “offer no innovations, no suggestions, or lessons”, but to accept the differences. Thank you, Maya!

Maya Letter to my


52 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: The Epitome Of Sophistication

    • I agree, such a magnificent…woman. It also takes audacity to alter her big embarrassment to a powerful message enabling us to learn from. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Jet! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A beautiful post Amy. I have nominated you for the Five Photos, Five Stories challenge. There is absolutely no obligation if you can’ t manage it. All you need to do is post a photo a day for five days and write a story about it. Each day you can also nominate another blogger.


    • Thank you for liking it, Raewyn! I will be happy to take the challenge, may not meet the expectation though… Thank you for thought about me.


    • In an unfamiliar place, it’s clever to go with the flow. Except, people often like to pre-judge others sometimes in a familiar place. Thank you for reading the story the second time, Dragon. 🙂


  2. Amy this was such a great post – we come across so many different nationalities and cultures, that the message is totally appropriate. Just loved it ~


  3. Important message delivered in excellent story telling by Maya Angelou! She is one of my favorite writers! Thank you for sharing this Amy, strong message and remind us for not being a judgmental person..


    • So glad to know Maya is one of your fav authors. This story will stay with me for a long while. Thank you for reading and commenting, Indah. 🙂


    • So glad to hear that you like May’s writings! 🙂 I got the image from Internet, I have never been to this island. Thank you so much for your comment, Susan. 🙂


      • well they sometimes take a while to load on our mobile devices (not sure why) but thanks for trying – and just check when you come back – they will be there. I am getting ready for a small blog break myself – starting next week –
        anyhow, safe travels – and see you when you come back. hugs


  4. Such a thoughtful and poignant story, Amy. It can be embarrassing and rather thoughtless if we go about our lives doing what we want to do without thinking about others. And sometimes it is those around us that humble us 🙂


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