“This is Water” Assertion

“But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-lady who just screamed at her little child in the checkout line – maybe she’s not usually like this; maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of her husband who’s dying of bone cancer…” David Foster Wallace writes this sentence into a commencement speech he performs called This is Water. Wallace’s goal is to tell the reader, or listener, that life is all about how you perceive it. You have a choice whether or not to perceive things with or without understanding. This small change can improve the way everyday life is viewed. The perspective changes from “what am I going to do next” to “what is happening now,” and “why are people in my way? I want to go home, I’m tired,” to “it’s not all about me, maybe they have somewhere more important to be and I’m in their way.” This small, unnatural switch, Wallace mentions, can change anyone’s mood.

Some days are just bad days, that’s agreeable. And some days you’re going to be the one where everyone is in your way because you have an ailing family member or someone you know is going into labor. But the point Wallace is trying to make in this quote is that every other day, when you aren’t that person, look on the brighter side of things. Make an excuse for bad drivers and mean people because you don’t know the full story. They might have something more important happening that is causing them to act the way they are.