chapter ii

chapter ii

9.10.2009

"This is the Water"


(image came out mirrored... from photobooth.)
There's always a stack of books piled at least three tall on my bedside. Books that I've loved and then been interrupted with another book that I love... It's like being at a cocktail party where you start talking to someone, having a good conversation, then you see someone else who you start talking to promising you will resume your prior conversation with the other, then you get carried away with your new one...
on and on. Or, I'll start reading and notice it's about to be 11 o'clock and I can't resist finding out what Niles and Frasier are up to. I mean I'll say "I love to read" and then feel nervous about books I haven't finished that someone will question my love. But it's just the way it goes when you lack discipline and pool lounging time that doesn't involve daiquiris or micheladas-because I love those things also.

Anyway, my stack of books ranges from fictional and fun, to non-fictional about something I feel I need to know more about, ie politics, health, religion, philosophy, economics, etc., classics that I need to finish before I die, and usually a Bible at the bottom-a constant reminder of my consecutively failed New Years resolutions to get through the Bible in a year. Most important book in the world, and I haven't read it. Nevertheless, always good to have around.

And that's the thing. All of the books are good to have around. Twenty minutes to spare, pick one up, whatever's on top or whatever I'm in the mood for, it's almost like using the time to call a friend you have been meaning to catch up with...another thing that can pile up if you're not careful...But, it wasn't until a friend of mine, Mary Claire, sent me a link to the 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address by David Foster Wallace that I thought what a great idea that is. First of all, the address blew me out of the water- maybe literally speaking from the context of the speech.

Wallace is genuine, real, and maybe a bit harsh but he leaves you with an honest perspective on what the true value of our (sometimes overpriced) educations (especially when people aren't just dying to give you a job) is--that it is all about being trained to make decisions. That by opening up your world to everything a university has to offer about the world you are basically blessed with a gift that puts you ahead more than by adding another bullet to your resume. Instead it's about helping you realize all of the possibilities life has and all of your potential and capabilty to seek and achieve those things as long as you can keep in mind that "This is the water." It's what you are swimming in or breathing (as per the fish joke he opens with) everyday.

Anyway, the speech is brilliant. If I could, I would invite David Foster Wallace to be at my dinner table for sure. He preaches the sermon of the prodigal s'more. Of seeing life from a distance, beyond the package, of having a general awareness of something beyond yourself and trying to see how you fit into the larger picture of the world rather than how the world fits into you. So by the end of the speech I felt inspired, and more aware, and I was thinking about art, and life, and love, and religion, and basically every theme that I could find lengthily expanded on right next to me on my nightstand. All of that in under 5 minutes. I almost felt like I'd put on those electric stomach exercisers that make your abs contract without you actually having to do a situp?
I mean, what a great idea to look up those speeches all the time. And not to say I won't keep piling up books, I will because I love books, but for a sure result in less time I think it's perfect. Of course you wish you could run 45 minutes (that's if you liked to run and were physically capable) in order to be thin and healthy (and hot) but if all your really in the mood for is a fruit smoothy then by all means pat yourself on the back for going out and getting those anti-oxidants and maybe an immune booster.
I hope that analogy makes sense, but even if it doesn't it doesn't matter because you'll forget all about my babble when you read THIS AWESOME ADDRESS NOW.

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