What The Hell Is Water?

Oh how I long to break free from the default settings in my head……

Bond Wang

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Photo by Worachat Sodsri on Unsplash

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?”

This is the start of the speech “This Is Water”. On May 21, 2005, the American author David Foster Wallace delivered the annual commencement speech at Kenyon College. Before that day, he was most known for a bunch of New York bestselling books. After giving this speech, he probably made a greater impact on the world than all his novels combined. This twenty-minutes or so speech is a fiesta of ideas for those who are seeking ways to interact with this world.

By starting with the fish and water, Wallace encouraged the students to consider the value of the seemingly obvious in their lives. Water, air, time, love, the list goes on and on. A mind that explores these simple but important things helps us pay attention to the present moment, rather than getting caught up in our own thoughts and perceptions.

Wallace was teasing himself that he started the speech with the fish story to follow “a standard requirement of US

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Bond Wang

Forget injuries, never forget kindness. Hey, I write about life, culture, and daydreams. Hope I open a window for you, as well as for myself.