This Is Water

For the past two weeks I’ve been reading non-fiction the likes of The Productivity Project, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and am currently reading Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life. See a trend? (I blame my supervisor for feeding me his books).

So it wasn’t surprising that with this new diet, the topics of articles I consequently read rang similar. Is Tiqah finally shedding her childish demeanor to a fully functioning matured woman??? (Pfft, you wish) BUT!! while sadly I don’t feel like much of an adult than I already am (which is basically nada if we’re being totally honest am I right), I did find an inspiring and eye-opening “adult” essay called “This Is Water” by David Foster Wallace, which I wholly recommend for everyone to read it – whether or not you see yourself as a properly-functioning-adult-thankyouverymuch or a Child Overlord whom needs all the deets about adulthood to be able to take advantage of it so we could all live under the fun and highly dangerous lives based on children’s morality which, speaking from experience, is more fun btw.

In all seriousness, the essay seems to be a speech about liberal arts education but I feel that the nuggets here are applicable for all. Without further ado, here’s some of my favourite excerpts:

“So let’s talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about quote teaching you how to think. […] But I’m going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché turns out not to be insulting at all, because the really significant education in thinking that we’re supposed to get in a place like this isn’t really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about.

“…I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded.”

“…Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship — be it [Jesus AS] or Allah [SWT], be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.

They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.”

You can read the rest of the essay here. Please do. You’ll do yourself a huge favour.

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2 comments
  1. I LOVE this essay. It’s one of those that I come back to when my sort-of-adult life starts getting me down.

    Liked by 1 person

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