Great interviewers often rely on questions that push their guest to delve deep into their personal story and share unique insight. This short video compiles some very surprising answers to On Being’s Krista Tippet‘s favorite interview question:

What was the religious or spiritual background of your childhood?

Says Tippett: “I find that’s a very fertile place in everybody’s imaginations, whatever their story is. It’s full of questions and searching and softness.”  It often reveals the central questions and themes her guests have followed their whole life, and which have made them who they are. Poet and philosopher David Whyte calls this our “human genius” — or “the way everything is met in you.”

What surprised me about Tippett’s question is that the answers from Esther Perel, Yo-Yo Ma, Sharon Olds, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Béla Fleck, Joy Ladin, Robert Macfarlane, Luis Alberto Urrea, and Darnell Moore are more often than not NOT about organized religion or a set spiritual path.  All the answers describe the earliest roots of what each of these remarkable people would do in their lives. Each describes a unique landscape.

How would you answer,

What was the spiritual ground of your childhood?

THAT question got me thinking about the many questions I’ve written about over the years.  The one that resonates most deeply with Krista Tippett’s is the question asked by the Japanese concept of Ikigai, “a reason for being”:

“What Makes You Jump Out Of Bed In The Morning?


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