11:22 AM

This is Water from Patrick Buckley on Vimeo.



I first heard David Foster Wallace's commencement speech, This is Water, one morning before heading to work at the grocery store. Someone posted it on Twitter or Facebook, I don't remember which. It struck such a nerve with me, I listened to it twice.

What really hit me was the part of the speech in which he talks about the day in and day out monotony of adult life. About being in a grocery store at the end of a very long work day. How we all feel like we are the most important people in the world because ultimately that is how we are programmed. We share immediate thoughts, feelings and experiences with ourselves so it's only natural to think of us as the center of the universe. So when we're at the grocery store, and things aren't going smoothly for us, we find everything and everyone who is contributing to that as very annoying and inconvenient.  Not stopping to take into account that our very existence is most likely causing annoyance and inconvenience to someone else.

When I worked at the grocery store, I experienced this first hand almost every day. This feeling of privilege and entitlement from other people. I experienced it myself when I couldn't understand why people felt so privileged and entitled.

Listening to his opened my eyes to what I experienced everyday and how I might be able to become more aware of these feelings I had.

I hadn't listened to This is Water since then, until yesterday. Nate and I were watching the movie Amy and there was a preview for the new movie based on DFW. It reminded me of the commencement speech and how great it was. I listened to it twice yesterday and once already today.

This is an excerpt from the essay where he talks about being stuck behind a woman in the checkout line:

“But most days, if you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she's not usually like this. Maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible. It just depends what you want to consider. If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it.

This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship.” 
― David Foster WallaceThis Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life

It's such a great take on us, the world and how we have the choice to live and think and experience life. I'm posting it today because maybe you'll feel the same way. Maybe you won't and that's okay too.


You Might Also Like

0 comments

Popular Posts