David Foster Wallace: “This is water, this is water.”

I got a little carried away this morning following a rabbit hole of David Foster Wallace writing.

This 2005 Kenyon Graduation speech is a confusing bit of clarity. You may need one reading or sixty eight. But it’s an important thing to look at.

Take this for an example:

Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m going to be pissed and miserable every time I have to food-shop, because my natural default-setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me, about my hungriness and my fatigue and my desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem, for all the world, like everybody else is just in my way, and who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem here in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line, and look at how deeply unfair this is: I’ve worked really hard all day and I’m starved and tired and I can’t even get home to eat and unwind because of all these stupid g-d- people.

Or a snippet I found on this page:

I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.

What I’ve come to discover about the people, friends and family who seem to know me is that somehow sometimes, their regard for me and my opinions is so deeply inset, engrained, unwavering, set-in-stone that my position is unchangeable. Unmalleable.

A foundation of concrete and fuck yous.

I don’t understand this, as it’s the mind/person behind that mind who is making that judgement who seems stone-set in their ways. I’m a waffling piece of unclarity, uncertainty, and a hopeful chump for new information that will disqualify all the information I’ve collected to date.

Maybe they are too. Maybe we all think we are so uncertain in our certainty. But as the center of the universe, we all tend to flex non-existent greatness whenever we can.

I examine and reexamine thought processes ad nauseam. If I am heralded for doing a good job, I find all the wrong in those accolades.

If I am congratulated on an awful job, I wallow in a sea of remorse and self depreciation.

But I’m working on that.

It boils down to little more: everyone thinks they are the center of the universe. And in some cases, some are worse than others. Some people are cock sure their thoughts and hopes are heard by the arbiter and creator of the natural universe to the point that those thoughts/hopes will supernaturally influence the outcome of the loss of keys, the diagnosis of cancer, the healthiness of the food they’re about to eat.

That I can tell, there is no proof of the supernatural. It may be there. It may not. My friends with a propensity to pray have no more talent, ability, purpose than us natural kids with an absence for that kind of thinking.

I choose to think about things this way. I construct meaning from this method. I pay attention to the world from this perspective. I make effort to understand it from the different perspectives of those around me. I feel I’ve settled and not settled on this way. For now.

Just for now.

In the meantime, the routine. The boring. The monotony. Those are mine to enjoy. The best I can.

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