Andrew Huth

May 27, 2021

This is Water

This is Water is the book form of a commencement address David Foster Wallace gave to Kenyon College in 2005. He would tragically kill himself a couple years later

The author argues that the most important freedom you can have is to truly care about other people. He defines this as sacrificing for others over and over again in a myriad of petty, small, unsexy ways.

Doing so takes an intense amount of attention, awareness, and effort to decide what meaning events have in your life.

An example is waiting in line at a crowded supermarket after a long day at work, when all you want is to get home. The "default setting" for many people is that they're the center of the universe. Everyone else is in your way, preventing you from getting home.

But there are many ways of viewing that situation. You can force yourself to consider the possibility that everyone else in the checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as you are. Some may actually have a much harder, more tedious, and more painful life than you.

You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't.

Of course, we all know this. It's in a million proverbs and stories. The trick is keeping this truth up front in our daily consciousness.