If someone gives you a chance to interview Gloria Steinem, you take it. The word “legend” is probably too often used, but it hits the description bullseye in Gloria’s case.
I’ve been a student of hers for all of my adult life. Like most people, I became aware of her in college. And since then, I’ve admired and closely followed Gloria’s work, her writings, and especially her journey from journalist to activist.
She is a warrior, a teacher and a peacemaker and that is a rare and powerful combination. When I was First Lady of California, Gloria Steinem allowed me to honor her with a Minerva Award at our Women’s Conference in 2008. We’ve stayed in touch by phone and email ever since.
I’m proud to say that we’re friends who have similar passions, similar interests and similar goals.
I think Interview Magazine set aside thirty minutes for our initial phone conversation and it lasted more than an hour and a half. We just lost track of time as we discussed the new HBO documentary on her life, Gloria: In Her Own Words and topics ranging from politics, revolutions and contemporary feminism to fear, self-esteem and marriage.
A conversation with Gloria Steinem goes places you can’t even predict or prepare for. I’m still thinking about women birthing themselves, original cultures and living with the elephants.
At the end of our conversation, Gloria said something that I’ll never forget. I asked her if she still lived in “books and in…[her] imagination?” When she responded “no,” I followed up with, “Where do you live now?” Here’s the exchange:
SHRIVER: Do you still live in books and in your imagination?
SHRIVER: Where do you live now?
STEINEM: I live in the land of delight—of just walking in the street, and the sun is shining, and I’m on my way to Starbucks and I’m feeling good. I also live for those aha! moments when you understand something new, when you see two things fitting together to make a surprising third. There’s actually a chemical that’s produced in the brain by learning that gives you that little ecstatic moment of, Oh, that’s why.
SHRIVER: Which sounds like you’re very much living in the present, really.
STEINEM: Much more than I used to. I’m loving the present.
Isn’t that wonderful — the land of delight? Yes, let us all live there.
The issue doesn’t hit newsstands for another week, but you can read the interview in its entirety at Interview Magazine’s website.
After you do, I hope you will come back here and let me know what you think in the comments section below. I would love to know what inspired you, what challenged you, and what question you would have asked her. Maybe, just maybe, we could get her to answer a few of your questions.