“This is water” is a speech given by David Foster Wallace in Kenyon College. It covers the importance of adjusting our default settings, how to take conscious decisions and what to pay attention to. David foster begins his speech by narrating an anecdote about two small fish, who don’t know that they are swimming in water and when an old, wise fish asked them how’s water? they were surprised and said, “what is water?”. Water here indicates life. The point of the fish story is that the most noticeable significant realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. The fact is that in the day to day details in adult existence tacky platitudes can have life or death importance.

What is meant by Default setting?

For instance, the most wrong thing, that I was automatically sure of, that I’m the absolute center of the universe and I’m the realest and the most important person in existence. This is the most basic, natural self centeredness, actually it’s our default setting. Let’s talk about it, you experience the world, that is in front of you, left you, right you, on your TV; you are the center of it. Meanwhile others’ people thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you but your own are so real and critical. It is important to control over what you think and to choose what to pay attention for, which help us to be conscious of everyday decisions we make in our life. and to become aware not to react to different situation according to our previous experiences and Increase our ability to perceive others.

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Day In- Day out

David dramatized the interactions that happens to everyone of us everyday because it is a part of our daily life. Day in-day out, for example, getting up early, working for 8-9 hours in your challenging job and at the end of the day; you are tired, stressed out, and all you want to do is to go home and have a nice supper then to sleep early because you have to do the same thing tomorrow. Then you realize that you have no food and you have to go shopping, driving in a heavy traffic to find that the supermarket is crowded because it is the time of the day that also other people are doing their groceries, going through a long, boring, hard shopping experience, waiting in an extremely long checkout line and being annoyed with people’s reaction around you as they talk very loudly in the phone.

How to think differently

If we think in that way, we will be frustrated.  It’s our default setting that automatically work when we are subjected to situations like that; it’s all about you, your hungriness, your fatigue and would seem that everybody is getting in your way. if you think in that way, you will be a slave to your head, especially to your mind. We have to look differently, not just be on our unconsciousness mood. Think of others; they may be in a hurry more than us, or that we are just in their way not them.

For example; Maybe the man in the SUV driving slowly in front of you, has been in a horrifying car accident in the past and now he finds driving so traumatic that their therapist ordered them to get large cars to feel safe while driving. Or that car which just cut you off is driven by a father whose child need to be taken to the hospital and he is in a hurry more than you are. Or that fat lady who lost her temper, shouting at her kid, maybe she is not always like that and she had been up for the last 3 days, sitting near her dying husband. All these situations are not likely to happen but not impossible.

Think from inside out

It’s the way for us to think from inside out, not from what is going on in front of us. To make conscious decisions about has meaning and what doesn’t. The moral here is how to live your life consciously without going through depressions about how hard, unfair life is. It is about awareness about hidden essential realities around us. and to start living our life consciously and not to be on our unconscious mood.


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