I was pleased to discover that This is Water , David Foster Wallace's 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon University is actually included in my 2006 copy of Best American Non-Required Reading, although I wouldn't mind having the newly published standalone version of it. (hint, hint) Thanks Dave Eggers, for always keeping me on the up-and-up.
From This is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life, by the late David Foster Wallace:
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys, 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?"
[click to buy]
But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying.
The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.
That is real freedom.
That is being taught to think.
It is about the real value of a real education, which has nothing to do with grades or degrees and everything to do with simple awareness-- awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over:
"This is water, this is water; these Eskimos might be much more than they seem."