Episode 89: "This Is Water"

But if you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars-compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things. Not that that mystical stuff’s necessarily true: The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship...
— David Foster Wallace
The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the “rat race”-the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.
— David Foster Wallace

As we prepare to graduate in three days, we felt it appropriate to examine and analyze another commencement address. This time, we chose to look at a well-known speech from our alma mater (Kenyon College) by David Foster Wallace. In this beloved address, often referred to as "This Is Water," Wallace examines the values of a liberal arts education. He emphasizes the mundane, soul-crushing and depressing realities of adult life, the daily battles and chores which face all of us in adulthood. He adds, however, that he feels the value of a liberal arts education lies in how one learns to think. He discusses the conscious choices one can make in perceiving the environment, social situations and the beautiful freedom in pursuing one's own beliefs through critical thought.

Talk to us on TwitterFacebook and leave us a review on iTunes! We would love to hear your thoughts!

David Foster Wallace's commencement address to the Kenyon College Class of 2005.

An edit of the commencement address set to music and footage.