THE COMMON OBSERVER UNCOMMON OBSERVATIONS

THIS IS WATER

David Foster Wallace took his own life. He chose that.

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

“This is water.” David Foster Wallace says. Something else he said is that learning how to think really means learning how to exercise control over how and what you think. So we might then think that either he was not able to exercise control over his own thoughts or he simply chose what most of would not. Regardless he never seemed to want to give us advice on what to choose. He offered no particular morality, religion, dogma, or vision of life after death. The only truth he offered was that you can consciously choose. Perhaps his final act serves as the ultimate bit of wisdom that his stunning literary works never could deliver.  A bold melancholy proof of the possibility of choice. If you are aware enough to give yourself the choice you can choose what your reality is and what is really important. The possibilities are present if you know how to think.

You can read an entire transcript of DFW’s This Is Water Kenyon College speech here.

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