“That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.
I know that this stuff probably doesn’t sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational the way a commencement speech is supposed to sound. What it is, as far as I can see, is the capital-T Truth, with a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. You are, of course, free to think whatever you wish. But please don’t just dismiss it as just some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.
The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.
It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:
“This is water.”
“This is water.”
In 2005, author David Foster Wallace was asked to give the commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College. However, the resulting speech didn’t become widely known until 3 years later, after his tragic death. It is, without a doubt, some of the best life advice we’ve ever come across, and perhaps the most simple and elegant explanation of the real value of education. We made this video, built around an abridged version of the original audio recording, with the hopes that the core message of the speech could reach a wider audience who might not have otherwise been interested. However, we encourage everyone to seek out the full speech (because, in this case, the book is definitely better than the movie) ~The Glossary
- Changing Your Perception of the Mundane: David Foster Wallace- “This Is Water” (tomazomc.net)
- This Is Water/Kenyon Commencement Speech-David Foster Wallace (innerthoughtsaboutrandomthings.wordpress.com)
- Rhetorical Précis (capone72794.wordpress.com)
- This is Water (meganpelino.wordpress.com)
- David Foster Wallace’s Kenyon Commencement Speech (sergeofawesomeness.wordpress.com)
- This. Is. Water. (ashleyedodd.wordpress.com)
“Our labor system is set up so that people must be employed in order to gain money to survive, while the actual contributions these occupations have to society are highly suspect, showing that jobs often exist just to keep people doing something in order to live and support the economic structure itself. This is a waste of human life.” ~from the video
- The Definitions of Sustainability Rewrite (kld025.wordpress.com)
- Two farms, two very different views on sustainability (northcountrypublicradio.org)
- Book of the Month – October – Sustainability: If It’s Everything, Is It Nothing? (psypress.com)
- Is Cloud Computing And Storage Environmentally Sustainable? (earthtechling.com)
This is the typical human problem. The object of dread may not be an operation in the immediate future. It may be the problem of next month’s rent, of a threatened war or social disaster, of being able to save enough for old age, or of death at the last. This ‘spoiler of the present’ may not even be a future dread. It may be something out of the past, some memory of an injury, some crime or indiscretion, which haunts the present with a sense of resentment or guilt. The power of memories and expectations is such that for most human beings the past and the future are not as real, but more real than the present. The present cannot be lived happily unless the past has been ‘cleared up’ and the future is bright with promise.
There can be no doubt that the power to remember and predict, to make an ordered sequence out of a helter-skelter chaos of disconnected moments, is a wonderful development of sensitivity. In a way it is the achievement of the human brain, giving man the most extraordinary powers of survival and adaptation to life. But the way in which we generally use this power is apt to destroy all its advantages. For it is of little use to us to be able to remember and predict if it makes us unable to live fully in the present.
What is the use of planning to be able to eat next week unless I can really enjoy the meals when they come? If I am so busy planning how to eat next week that I cannot fully enjoy what I am eating now, I will be in the same predicament when next week’s meals become ‘now.’
If my happiness at this moment consists largely in reviewing happy memories and expectations, I am but dimly aware of this present. I shall still be dimly aware of the present when the good things that I have been expecting come to pass. For I shall have formed a habit of looking behind and ahead, making it difficult for me to attend to the here and now. If, then, my awareness of the past and future makes me less aware of the present, I must begin to wonder whether I am actually living in the real world.
- Living in the Now (medicinemeninmexico.wordpress.com)
- True Awareness: Introduction To Alan Watts & The Zen Mind (tomazomc.net)
- Alan Watts – Out of Your Mind (promienie.net)
- What’s Wrong With Our Culture (philosophers-stone.co.uk)
- Awareness and the Now (time2dreamblog.com)
I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth
Two years ago, when we (my boyfriend, Stephen, and I) first walked away from our home it was still winter and the coldest we slept was 18 degreess, with no problem, and that was without a tent and only summer sleeping bags we zipped together. The average winter temperature is not very cold here in this part of Pennsylvania (for instance, nothing like Alaska’s or Maine’s winters).
I am looking forward to the winter, it will be beautiful to witness as the snow falls or to wake up to a mountain top of snow. Outside, one can see all of the changes, even the subtle ones, as the seasons merge with one another. For example, the official date of Autumn is September 22, but when you live outside, you notice that Fall begins well before that, usually around the end of July and beginning of August and lasts, in the tiniest, minutest ways all through August, even before the temperature changes in September. You can smell Fall coming in August. One day in August, we woke up and the sound of the wind in the treetops was different and we both knew right then that Fall was on its way. The sound of the forest changes, the animals behave differently well before the end of September. Everything PREPARES first for the Fall and you can see all of the preparation throughout August and September, something otherwise missed if living inside. You learn to synchronize with your natural surroundings. We would weather the winter as easily as the animals do.
Just the other night, in the tent we listened as a thunderstorm began miles away in the distance and the reverberations of the insects’ calls danced off the still air and anticipating trees. Then we saw lightning, and listened intently as the wind picked up, starting at the tops of the trees first, before descending around their barks and rushing through the forest proper and down near the ground. We listened as the insects hushed, just slightly, as if they, too, were waiting for the storm. And we can hear it coming, we can hear the sheet of rain rushing towards us like the sound of a train. The sound is unmistakable. Last year and earlier this year, when we used to live near a stream, the sound of the stream increased as the storm approached. And when we walked about outside, two years ago, we were often caught in the storms and we were still awed by their beauty. We have seen colors of lightning that have dazzled us, we have seen the satellites shoot across the air, we have seen red lightning (called sprites, I think) that actually occur high above the clouds, we have been so close to lightning strikes as to feel its heat and notice that lightning actually burns a fire orange! Like looking at a string of flame, it was incredible! We saw the rare Strawberry Moon two years ago, we have watched the positions of the constellations change as the seasons and the earth revolve. Nature calls the spirit within humans. . . my boyfriend and I just answered back. We have never regretted it. We often wonder whether we can sleep again while inside. Although, one day, we will probably eventually return to the indoors , for now the Winter’s morrow bothers us not, and we look forward to exploring the seasons merge from one to the other, as humans merge from one phase of life to another, as the universe slowly moves on towards an unknown eventuality. We await. . . and we prepare looking for the mysteries beneath, looking past our physical eyes . . . seeking more to see.
“Winter Snow Path” by blmiers2
“Seasons” by Dawn Ellner
“Cold Nose” by Laszlo Ilyes
- Question Time: Goodbye summer, hello fall (kokomotribune.com)