And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, 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. It is our default-setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Let’s get concrete. This is Water by David Foster Wallace (Full Transcript and Audio), Hunter Thompson on finding your purpose and living a meaningful life, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything, What They Don’t Teach You In Business School. And it commences: now. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Lots of us do. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. Still Curious? It’s not like I haven’t ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. But please don’t just dismiss it as just some finger-wagging Dr Laura sermon. We rarely talk about this sort of natural, basic self centeredness, because it's so socially repulsive, but it's pretty much the same for all of us, deep down. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”. But it will be. The speech was made into a thin book titled This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life. But anyway, you finally get to the checkout line’s front, and you pay for your food, and you get told to “Have a nice day” in a voice that is the absolute voice of death. Because it’s hard. Here's one example of the utter wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: Everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe, the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Obviously, you can think of it whatever you wish. This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. 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. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. People who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being “well-adjusted”, which I suggest to you is not an accidental term. 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. David Foster Wallace is the author of Infinite Jest, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, Oblivion, Consider the Lobster, and the unfinished book he was working on at the time he committed suicide: The Pale King. It’s the end of the work day and the traffic is apt to be: very bad. Because we prize tolerance and diversity of belief, nowhere in our liberal arts analysis do we want to claim that one guy’s interpretation is true and the other guy’s is false or bad. We’d do well […], The Pygmalion Effect is a powerful secret weapon. Because here's something else that's true. Welcome back. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.”.
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