the inner light of alice walker

The pulitzer prize-winning author & essayist discusses trust, wonder & her vision for the future.

photo by doug kim,


TNC The title of your new book reminds me of the old proverb, “It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.” Is this what you mean by “Inner Light in a Time of Darkness”?

AW   Each of us has to trust that there’s a compass that we were born with. With that compass, we can tell the right direction that we should go without having to rely on leaders who often have no idea where they’re going, and they’re taking us right over the cliff with them. So it’s about trusting that compass, which is like a moral light. It lights us and it warms us, because what’s happening is a darkening, and also a cooling.

TNC   In your essay, “All Praises to the Pause,” (from Inner Light In A Time of Darkness) you remind us of the necessity of reflection, to embrace it and not to fear it. Why is our culture so afraid of pausing?

AW   Our culture is scared of it because we don’t want to face ourselves. We don’t want to really face who we are, based on what we’ve done to other people, and to the land. We just want to keep flying, just keep speeding along, hoping that no one will notice what we’ve done. What’s required is for all of us to take a giant time out and really look at who we are. We need to pause, in the big sense, but especially in the small sense. I’m very much into small.

TNC   Also, you talk about the pause as a time for gathering the vision together, this vision most in danger of becoming extinct in our time. How do we work toward the vision, and keep it alive? How do we make the vision reality?

AW   That’s where we get back to yoga, and back to meditation, and back to having a practice. This really is the time when you must have a practice, you must have something. So, it’s a time to spread this, that’s why all these meditation places are so crucial, to teach people that there really is a different way, a better way, to approach the… the terror, that we all are seeing, and feeling …


Taien Ng-Chan is a Montréal writer, editor and filmmaker. She has been trying to incorporate meditation through daily travel (walking, riding the bus) as a part of her practice.  More about her projects can be found online at


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