THIS IS WATER – By David Foster Wallace from The Glossary on Vimeo.
Great visualization of the commencement address author David Foster Wallace was asked to give to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College.
I’m a DFW fan and was familiarized with this speech through his posthumously published book of the same name. Which is a reprinting of the entire speech (the video only includes excerpts). Also highly recommended.
For the past few months I have been a happy subscriber to The Listserve. The Listserve operates like an email lottery. Every day, one person is chosen from its list of subscribers and given the chance to say anything they want to the rest (currently more than 20,000). What people choose to say is always interesting to me. It is sometimes very personal. Sometimes funny. Sometimes controversial. Sometimes inspirational. Sometimes someone just shares their favorite recipe or movie. And, that is the fun, it could be almost anything.
That said, I have noticed a trend. It seems that people who live in small towns in distant countries from the US almost always want to share a bit about where they live and what life is like there. Especially if that place has seen recent rough times. Almost always, there is a sense of hope and resolve in their descriptions. One that says the place they live is not perfect, but they love it because it is home.
I find it further interesting that I see little of this from those here in the United States. Perhaps we tend to assume everyone knows. Maybe it’s hubris or the knowledge that our primary export is our culture. I’m not sure why. But I see few people from here using their opportunity to describe what life is like where they live to others on the list.
I think this is a missed opportunity. I would bet that those who’s small country I now know a bit more about would love to hear a bit about Saint Paul or West Bend or Missoula and why we call this home. I bet they would be as surprised and delighted as I am when I see their home through their eyes. To feel just a little bit less far away from wherever they are.