The work of choosing.
Lately I’ve really been feeling the daily grind. Like, literally I’m grinding my teeth and locking my jaw and not sleeping at night. I can’t organize my thoughts, I feel overwhelmed and lost. I seem to get to this point every few months and when I do, I find myself going back to pieces of inspiration that have helped me get a clearer head and connect back to what is important.
David Foster Wallace’s 2005 Kenyon College commencement address is something I’ve revisited a lot. It is a brilliant look at mindfulness and the role it plays in our everyday lives:
“[Mindfulness] 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…What it is, as far as I can see, is the capital-T Truth, with a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. 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…
It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really is the job of a lifetime. And it commences now.”
So a reminder to myself, and to anyone that might be feeling the grind. Stay conscious. There is happiness in the rat race.
Watch “This is Water” —the video that made Wallace’s life advice viral— or read his entire commencement speech for more nuggets of capitol-T truth.