Travel, says Gloria Steinem in her memoir, My Life on the Road, is messy. You never know what can happen and more importantly, who you’ll meet. For Steinem, nearly 82, travel has been part of her entire life, beginning in childhood when she and her sister joined her parents on long road trips as her father peddled small antiques from town to town.
The memoir isn’t a chronological listing of places she’s been; instead it’s a tale of who she’s met – lives she’s helped change and lives that have changed her.
A freelance journalist, she’s skilled in asking questions and listening- not for answers but for ways she could encourage others to find their voices. From Native American women, flight stewardesses, waitresses, the deaf community at Washington, DC’s Gallaudet University, to countless college students nationwide and political campaigns, Steinem, a founder of Ms. Magazine and women’s movement icon, inspired others to become empowered.
She writes about speeches she’s given, often accompanied by other icons of the movement—Florynce Kennedy, Shirley Chisholm, Dorothy Height and Bella Abzug and more. Initially intimidated by public speaking, she embraced the challenge.
She’s a master at talking to strangers, whether taxi drivers or seat mates on airplanes, and hearing their stories. She doesn’t own a car or drive, and relishes these conversations for what she learns about people and the country.
In her introduction, Steinem lists three reasons why she wrote this book. Travel expands our knowledge of reality in ways no sound bite or media can portray. She hopes to encourage readers to travel too, by opening our minds, and third, she hopes to share stories.
An inspiring read.