This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life by David Foster Wallace
★★★★★ (4.5 stars)
“Think about it: There is no experience you’ve had that you were not at the absolute center of.”
This is Water, a commencement speech given to the prestigious Kenyon College in 2005, is a profound call to live life.
David Foster Wallace, in his signature style that is both intellectually deep and witty, urges graduates to be present in the real world and to make conscious decisions. He is fully aware of the clichés of commencement speeches and uses them to his advantage.
This is Water is not a moral sermon meant to steer graduates on the path to “ideal” adulthood (though, admittedly, there is no such thing). Instead, it is a call to live life with an awareness of self. As Wallace puts it, “‘Learning how to think’ really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think.”
As a college student, This is Water resonated powerfully with me. Wallace argues that we are all inherently self-centered. It takes discipline and hard work to steer away from that path of self-centeredness to live consciously and realize that we have the ability to make decisions.
I can decide to live a life full of miserable, self-centered monotony. Or, I can decide to cherish my time on earth and focus on others instead of myself. I can decide to live, as Wallace puts it, “consciously, adultly, day in and day out.”
Abby Jewett is an aspiring author and kitten enthusiast. She is the writer of the Seize the Day series on Wattpad. She also participates in the yearly NaNoWriMo. She adores all things bookish and nerdy, and she holds Nutella in extremely high regard.