Monday, November 23, 2009

Going Rogue: Palin and Steinbeck

Courtesy Harper Collins

Last week, I was excited to finally receive my pre-ordered (two months ago via Amazon) copy of Governor Sarah Palin's book, Going Rogue. Admittedly, I was impatient to crack it open, but it was a busy week and I had to wait a couple of days to start reading. As of now, however, I can happily report that I am about halfway through the book, and it has certainly been an enjoyable journey thus far.

When I use the word "journey," that is exactly what I mean to say.

In the first few sentences, I found myself thinking of the many Steinbeck novels I have read over the years.* Steinbeck's straightforward language makes for powerful prose that immediately piques readers' interest, leading them to wonder where they will be taken, and whom they will meet in their mind's eye. From the first paragraph of Going Rogue, I was similarly drawn into the scene as the Governor describes walking through the 2008 Alaska State Fair with four of her children, engaging in snippets of conversation with her constituents at the time. It was as if I were walking right beside them, taking in the sights and smells of that festive August day.

As I think about it, perhaps this is what allows so many millions of "ordinary, hardworking Americans" (as the Governor is fond of saying) to connect with this pioneering Alaskan woman. It's so easy to feel as if we are by her side - and she by ours - walking together through daily life. Our concerns are common. Our joys, similar.

When she writes of using her "micro level" experience as the matriarch of a large family to inform her management of the state of Alaska, we can each recall similar situations in which we were challenged to accept new responsibilities, banking on the lifetime of preparation that brought us to that point.

Governor Palin believes that Providence is at work in her life - that God has a plan for each of us and that we must only be open to allowing His will to implement that plan. In her case, this belief appears to free her from the excessive worry and fear that stifles the would-be potential in so many others. Instead, the Governor approaches every situation head-on, plainly exhibiting the reason that she is often described, first and foremost, as "confident". She shows no hesitation in taking the next step - not because she has delusions of grandeur - but because she knows that wherever she is, she is exactly where she should be.

This is something more of us would do well to learn. Certainly, the Governor's strength is undeniable, but it need not be uncommon.

Going Rogue has been a fascinating tale thus far, and I believe women, in particular, will benefit from this in-depth encounter with Governor Palin's biography. Though her stories largely take place in an Alaskan world many of us have not yet experienced, there is much to learn from the Governor's open, insightful - and humorous - approach to telling the story of her life, thus far.

I look forward to the next 217 pages...

*We'll pause here to allow the Palin-haters to stop laughing and return to their feet.

*Top photo courtesy HarperCollins
*Second photo by Shealah Craighead (official 2008 campaign photographer)

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