I was really excited to read Gloria Steinem’s book My Life on the Road. I thought feminist, journalist, entrepreneur, this woman has done and seen so much — it has to be good! And it wasn’t that it wasn’t good, especially looking now at all these little gems I pulled out of it below, but it was just a little underwhelming.
I personally found it a little hard to follow and unorganized. It seemed to jump around a lot and I just wasn’t a fan of how it was written. Similar to Diane von Furstenberg’s book (my thoughts on that book here), I think I just left it thinking, oh ok. I found Steinem’s book to be a little more boring than DVF’s but a lot more enlightening if that makes sense.
If you’ve read My Life on the Road I’d love to hear your take. But below are some of the enlightening nuggets. Excerpts from the book are italic, my thoughts are not.
Hope is a form of planning.
One of the simplest paths to deep change is for the less powerful to speak as much as they listen, and for the more powerful to listen as much as they speak.
More reliably than anything else on earth, the road will force you to live in the present.
She talks a lot about being on the road and never home, so that reference is something you’ll have to read the book to get the full impact.
Even the dictionary defines adventurer as “a person who has, enjoys, or seeks adventures,” but adventuress is “a woman who uses unscrupulous means in order to gain wealth or social position.”
The wisdom the Gandhians taught her:
If you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them.
If you hope people will change how they live, you have to know how they live.
If you want people to see you, you have to sit down with them eye-to-eye.
If you find yourself drawn to an event against all logic, go. The universe is telling you something.
I thought all these wisdom bits were great. And that last one about being drawn to something that is against all logic — WOW that one hit home for me. I think I always felt like I should only do things if it felt right and worked out sort of easily. But things aren’t easy, and that challenge of doing something uncomfortable and going against all logic seems like it would be rewarding, and in the example she tells in the book, it is. It definitely made me think differently about things that I say no to or don’t do because they might be complicated, or seem like they were supposed to happen.
Mrs. Greene said to Steinem, “You white women, if you don’t stand up for yourselves, how can you stand up for anybody else?”
“Always look at what people do,” as my mother said, “not at who they are.”
A writer’s greatest reward is naming something unnamed that many people are feeling. A writer’s greatest punishment is being misunderstood. The same words can do both.
Voting isn’t the most we can do, but it is the least. To have a democracy, you have to want one.
Is this one timely or what!?!
Home is a symbol of the self. Caring for a home is caring for one’s self.
This is something I’ve always believed. Your home is a reflection of you. I’ve always felt a deep need for my home to reflect my style and it unconsciously can also reflect your state of mind. Have you heard the saying cluttered home, cluttered mind? Or something similar. While I’m sure in some cases that isn’t true, people can have a messy home and be perfectly able to focus and not have a cluttered mind (is anyone that way?) but for me I think it’s true. When my home is clean and organized, I just feel lighter and able to concentrate on other things better.
Let me know your thoughts on the book in the comments.
Find my other posts about books here!
Photo by Meg Biram