What Toni Morrison Taught Us About Life

4 min readAug 7, 2019
Photo taken by the Author, at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

I took the above photo while visiting the National Portrait Museum in Washington, DC. One of the most captivating images that I came across, I stared in awe for quite some time. For all of its simplicity, the neutral background, minimal colors and the absence of space-filling objects, I felt it was a profound capture of Toni Morrison’s essence. It was just her, as it should be. Just her is enough.

On August 5, 2019, we lost a brilliant literary mind in acclaimed novelist, essayist, editor, teacher, professor, Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning Toni Morrison. As impressive and well-deserved as her many accolades are, somehow, she managed to be so much more. Through her masterful writing and storytelling, Morrison gave us boundless wisdom — So many valuable lessons on life and love. My words cannot even begin to do her justice, but I selected a few Morrison quotes and explained why each resonates with me. Though I believe they offer insight from which we could all benefit.

On Life…

“Freeing yourself was one thing. Claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”—Beloved

Did you feel that in your soul just now, the way I did? In breaking free of situations that have left us fragmented and defeated, we often don’t complete the process. The next step is owning our independence, and ourselves. It’s deciding who we will become and doing something with that freedom. So that we don’t find ourselves losing it again in the next person or situation.

“If you wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”—Song of Solomon.

A personal fave, just because it’s so blunt. Known for her imagery and bending of language, Morrison got straight to the point on this one! And I love it. The concept is simple — Why shouldn’t its expression also be? If we want to thrive in life we must eliminate whatever is keeping us bound. This is non-negotiable. But most of us know that already. The challenge is finding the strength and the resolve to follow through. Considering the previously unimaginable heights that we could reach if we did, helps.

“At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough.”—Tar Baby.


Critically acclaimed author. Music connoisseur. Multi-passionate creative. I’ve lost a lot of sleep to dreams….