This is Water by David Foster Wallace

Subtitled “Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life.”

This is Water is the text of a speech that David Foster Wallace gave to Kenyon’s class of 2005 at their graduation. It’s a meditation on importance of finding meaning in life. I was prepared to be angered by this work, given Wallace’s ultimate suicide. I have a hard time believing that someone who ended his own life could teach me how to live mine to the fullest.

Surprisingly, Wallace’s speech really made me think. I loved his notion that everyone worships, even atheists, so it’s important to be conscious of the object of your worship. I also liked his reminder that we’re all essentially self-centered. I wish that Wallace had been able to conquer his demons the way the similarly-obsessed Walker Percy did. His is a great loss.

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