Something inside seems to be waiting, holding its breath


“Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before. Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed.”

Alice Malsenior Walker, 69, is an American author and activist. She wrote the critically acclaimed novel The Color Purple (1982) for which she won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

In 1952, when she was 8 years old, Walker was accidentally wounded in the right eye by a shot from a BB gun fired by one of her brothers. She said the act was actually deliberate but she agreed to protect her brother against their parents’ anger if they knew the truth. Because the family had no car, the Walkers could not take their daughter to a hospital for immediate treatment. By the time they reached a doctor a week later, she had become permanently blind in that eye. When a layer of scar tissue formed over her wounded eye, Alice became self-conscious and painfully shy. Stared at and sometimes taunted, she felt like an outcast and turned for solace to reading and to writing poetry. When she was 14, the scar tissue was removed. She later became valedictorian and was voted most-popular girl, as well as queen of her senior class, but she realized that her traumatic injury had some value: it had allowed her to begin “really to see people and things, really to notice relationships and to learn to be patient enough to care about how they turned out.”

Image Credit: csmonitor. Quote Credit: A Poet Reflects. Walker Bio: Wiki


  1. “..we are being prepared for the next phase of our life..” I believe this – that when we lie fallow for a time, there is a reason that isn’t prepared to make itself know just yet.


  2. This resonates so deeply with me. I, too, believe that all things are revealed in the time at which we are ready to embrace or handle them, which oftentimes isn’t on our schedule. I love the analogy of the seed germinating and pressing upward through the soil– surging toward the light and air it must have to survive, but bent double by the process. Wow….


  3. i am reminded of the butterflies we raise in my classroom each year. what must it be like for them? their uncomfortable struggles to break free of the comfort of the cocoon. do they have a moment’s hesitation, wondering if it would be better to stay, in the peace and knowing of a familiar place? or do they jump in, not knowing exactly what’s to come next, instinct and no hope of stopping the metamorphosis from just taking over? i watch them as they emerge, a bit awkward, and they slowly unfurl their new wings, still wet, and flutter them a little, as they get used to the new feel of the body and the place where they now find themselves. after a very short time, they begin to fly and we let them go free into the world, for the next stage of their life.


  4. Love the feeling of anticipation…what will emerge? I have never been disappointed.


  5. Alice Walker is among my favourite authors. And this a welcome read at the moment. Thank you.


    • Thank you. I haven’t read any of her books (including The Color Purple – I may be one of the few on the planet that hasn’t). I need to dive in.


      • She is very intelligent, deeply thoughtful, and her books reflect that. My favourite book of hers is The Secret of My Familiar. Second, and a difficult read, is Possessing the Secret of Joy. Her first book, The Third Life of Grange Copeland is amazing. I also do like The Color Purple. I’ve read everything I could get my hands on that she has written and highly recommend her work. I will say, she does not choose easy topics. She’s not beach reading. But she’s well worth the effort. (She actually writes well, so it’s not a slog. But she writes about very difficult things. She has said she sees her role as a witness, and I believe she writes with that in mind.) If you let her work in, she is an author who will assist you on becoming a deeper and more thoughtful person.


  6. Barneysday says:

    Very inspiring, and something I need to keep in mind during periods of growth, and something I wish I realized during my evolving youth.


  7. Hmmm. Right now, I’m identifying with Alice Walker, for several reasons. Thanks for sharing this with us today, David.


  8. I think that expression “No pain, no gain” can just as easily be applied to spiritual growth as to physical fitness regimes and work goals.


  9. I love this post, her message, and learning more about her. Thank you for the gift of your post.


  10. I’ve been thinking about this post all day. I appreciate that without conflict, there’d be no progress, yet does it have to be so painful?


    • Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.



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