This is Water - David Foster Wallace


“This is Water” is David Foster Wallace‘s 2005 commencement speech to the graduating class at Kenyon College. It talks about living a compassionate life.


At first, this was hard to grasp (especially with the long writing and the visual metaphors), but at the end, it blew me away. One of my core values (not just as a creative, but as a human being) is empathy, and this speech solidified it further.


  • We're hardwired to believe that we're the center of the universe.

  • Learning how to think consists of learning how to control what we pay attention to + how we construct meaning from experience.

  • It's within our power to see excruciating experiences as meaningful ones

  • Everybody gets to choose what they worship.

  • With true freedom, you choose to care and sacrifice for others everyday.

    • requires attention, awareness, and discipline,

  • The alternative to freedom is unconsciousness.

    • Unconsciousness = autopilot mode. The norm. Running in the rat race. Going through the motions without wondering why.

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