We women have lived too much with closure: "If he notices me, if I marry him, if I get into college, if I get this work accepted, if I get this job" -- there always seems to loom the possibility of something being over, settled, sweeping clear the way for contentment. This is the delusion of a passive life. When the hope for closure is abandoned, when there is an end to fantasy, adventure for women will begin.
The rare, delicate flavor of a life after retiring in one's sixties, whatever one has "retired" from, the pleasure I experienced beyond my job at Columbia, is a gift of life in the last decades. but it is not easily learned. . . . But sometimes, the only way to live is to get out, or at least seriously to contemplate getting out, doing the impossible,flinging the conventional tea.
Women, I believe, search for fellow beings who have faced similar struggles, conveyed them in ways a reader can transform into her own life, confirmed desires the reader had hardly acknowledge-desires that now seem possible. Women catch courage from the women whose lives and writings they read, and women call the bearer of that courage friend. [p. 138]
Once you are thought selfish, not only are you forgiven a life designed mainly to suit yourself, which in anyone else would appear monstrous, but if an impulse to generosity should by chance overpower you, you will get five times the credit of some poor selfless soul who has been oozing kindness for years.
Ardent, intelligent, sweet, sensitive, cultivated, erudite. These are the adjectives of praise in an androgynous world. Those who consider them epithets of shame or folly ought not to be trusted with leadership, for they will be men hot for power and revenge, certain of right and wrong.