Editor's Note (05may2013): The video below has been pulled from YouTube and Vimeo due to copyright infringement claims by the David Foster Wallace Literary Trust. We leave it here with the hopes that the two parties can resolve the dispute because it was a beautiful film. Nevertheless, I encourage you to listen to the audio of DFW's entire speech, which is embedded at the end of this post. Thankfully, this is still online.

"The real value of a real education has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: 'This is water. This is water.'"

The late David Foster Wallace gave what is quickly coming to be an iconic commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College. And this video creatively illustrates the second half of that commencement speech, touching on concepts of living a good life, on compassion and empathy and kindness, and, yes, on utilizing one's education by being present to the world around us.

In many ways, David Foster Wallace's words about "the mystical oneness of all things" and being aware of the back stories of the lives of the people we encounter every day reminds me of this video from the Cleveland Clinic. Although the author never made it to his fiftieth birthday, he offers some guiding wisdom on how to navigate the banalities of living and

And, here's audio of his entire commencement address in two parts:

Share Your Reflection



thank you

your plight
in waking
is to choose from the words that even now sleep on your tongue
and to know that
tangled among them
and terribly new
is the sentence that could
change your life."

~Marie Howe


I'm a very, very, very big fan of DFW, and very sad he's gone, Heard in retrospect, this sounds like a desperate effort to convince himself to live as if life were good. Ultimately he lost the conviction. This just breaks my heart.

Thank you for posting the audio.

I lived the first half of my life worshiping all the things that destroy us but mindfulness changed all that and it is true, simple awareness makes even the most boring things joyful and you need less to make your self happy.

too many adjectives
and looking at the negatives
this is all in between the 'cosmic' mystery
where does he allude to that? whatever oe may call IT!.



Wow,mindfulness, worshiping, water

It's a shame i cant watch this video. And i think education is the right to awareness. Education is the right of everyone.

Outstanding presentation/inerview Thank you for this one so much, Krista!


I had this video up on my channel for the last couple of weeks. Today, David Foster Wallace Literary Trust's lawyer sent a copyright infringement notice to YouTube and it was removed from my account. I guess you can copyright a public speech; who knew? The only way they want you to experience the late David Foster Wallace's work is to pay them first. I'm sure the distinguished Ryan Goodell, Esq will find a way to take even this tribute to DFW down. Why can't people just come together and share something they enjoy?

Well said! This copyright BS just shows the true colors of "the land of free" we live in! :( When people watching his video they are not selling it - making money with someone else's work - so why "copyright's infringement"? It makes no sense to me!

Thank you for sharing. This Life, This is Water.