In Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, Krista Tippett, host of the nationally syndicated radio program and podcast On Being, traces her path toward wisdom through her years of interviews with a diverse array of spiritual seekers.

How did you decide how to structure the book?

Well, the process was tortured. I think for me there was a challenge to bringing my own voice in because what I do for a living is draw out other people. When I’m interviewing somebody, I help walk them back and forth across the line of what they think, what they believe, and who they are. But it was very challenging for me to push myself to do the same thing, so there were a lot of false starts.

During your revisions, did any moments of wisdom open up to you?

Yes, absolutely. There is this magic about writing. In striving to write something down you learn things that you had known or seen—things that you didn’t know you knew or had seen. In an early draft I had made a passing mention of my father’s adoption and this unexpressed turmoil in my family growing up. A friend of mine read it and said: “I have never heard you talk about this. Through the book I was wondering, ‘Where does your urgency to be asking these questions come from?’ I read this and I suddenly understand.” And when he said that to me, I understood for the first time that I grew up in a household where the most important things we weren’t allowed to talk about. It’s an important thread in the story that I couldn’t have seen until after I’d written about 15 terrible drafts.

Your writing, like your interviews, is passionate and urgent but also leaves room for uncertainty. Can you talk about that balance?

The work that I do allows me to step back and take a long lens. And a larger frame allows distance from what distracts us and sends us into despair moment to moment, day to day. This ability to gain perspective, to step back and think wider and bigger and see places for hope—you don’t have to be doing my job to do that. I think we’re inundated with momentary images, news, and ideas that demoralize and paralyze us when the moment we inhabit is so full of promise. But we can only grasp that promise with the best of ourselves. I’m trying to point at real lives all around us that show how we can start to find comfort by reaching out to others. I’ve never been about looking for commonalities, though. I look for depth and specificity. The diversity of people in the book—they aren’t always speaking the same language, but they are offering a very rich vocabulary with lots of different entry points, all leading to a more ambiguous way of thinking and being. We can find comfort and meaning in that ambiguity.