David Foster Wallace's "This is Water," Remixed

The obvious truths are the ones we need most often to recall.

One of the lasting, iconic commencement addresses, David Foster Wallace's "This is Water" is a poetic treatment of individual importance in a world that often seems designed to thwart it. But the late writer reminds his audience that as they take their education and degrees into the future and encounter the inevitable stumbles and day-to-day frustrations, they will have one very important choice - a choice that will have nothing - and yet everything - to do with what they know.

In the midst of that tedium, the graduates' ongoing education will rely far less on the facts of the matter as they are presented and absentmindedly absorbed by a brain with a self-important "default setting," and far more on a simple awareness that offers them, instead, the chance to choose. That, he pointedly says, is learning how to think. That is "the 'capital T' truth" of the here and now.

Watch. His words are particularly moving given his prodigious talent and long, and ultimately losing, struggle against depression. If you've never read the address, be patient with the first three minutes of this short video. You will be rewarded.

Stay curious.


Hat tip: Open Culture