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8 juin 2013 6 08 /06 /juin /2013 13:59


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 eventually. One of them looks over at the other and goes. What the hell is water ? The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious Important realities are often the ones that are hardest. To see and talk about. Stated as an english sentence of course is just a banal platitude. But the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence. Banal platitudes can have a life or death importance. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors. Do not yet have any clue What day in day out really means. There happen to be whole large parts of adult. American life. That nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom routine and petty frustration.The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I'm talking about. By way of example let's say it's an average adult day. And you get up in the morning.     Go to your challenging white collar college graduate job. And you work hard for eight or ten hours. And at the end of the day you're tired and somewhat stressed. And all you want is to go home and have a good supper. And maybe unwind for an hour and then hit the sack early. Because of course you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there's no food at home. You haven't had time to shop this week because of your challenging job. And so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It's the end of the work day and the traffic is apt to be very bad. So getting to the store takes way longer than it should. And when you finally get there the supermarket is very crowded. Because of course it's the time of day when all the other people with jobs. Also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping. But you can't just get in and quickly out. You have to wander all over the huge over lit store's confusing aisles. To find the stuff you want and you have to maneuver your junky cart. Through all these other tired hurried people with carts. Et cetera et cetera cutting stuff out because this is a long ceremony. And eventually you get all your supper supplies. Except now it turns out there aren't enough check-out lanes open. Even though it's the end of the day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long which is stupid and infuriating. But you can't take your frustration out on the frantic lady working the register. Who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness. Surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college. But anyway you finally get to the checkout line's front. And you pay for your food and you get told to. Have a nice day. In a voice that is the absolute voice of death. Then you have to take your creepy flimsy plastic bags of groceries In your cart with the one crazy wheel that pulls maddeningly to the left.     All the way out through the crowded bumpylittery parking lot. And then you have to drive all the way home through. Slow heavy SUV-intensive rush-hour traffic et cetera et cetera. Everyone here has done this of course. But it hasn't yet been part of you graduates actual life routine. Day after week after month after year. But it will be. And many more dreary annoying seemingly meaningless routines besides. But that is not the point. The point is that petty frustrating crap like this Is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines. Give me time to think and if I don't make a conscious decision. About how to think and what to pay attention to I'm gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. Because my natural default setting is the certainty. That situations like this are really all about me. About my hungriness and my fatigue and my desire to just get home. And it's going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way. And who are all these people in my way ? And look at how repulsive most of them are. And how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed. And nonhuman they seem in the checkout line. Or at how annoying and rude it is that people. Are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at how deeply and personally unfair this is. If I choose to think this way in a store and on the freeway. Fine lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic. That it doesn't have to be a choice. It is my natural default setting. It's the automatic way that I experience. The boring frustrating crowded parts of adult life. When I'm operating on the automatic unconscious belief. That I am the center of the world. And that my immediate needs and feelings. Are what should determine the world's priorities. The thing is that of course there are totally different ways. To think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way. It's not impossible that some of these people in SUV's. Have been in horrible auto accidents in the past. And now find driving so terrifying that their therapist. Has all but ordered them to get a huge heavy SUV. So they can feel safe enough to drive. Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood. That everyone else in the supermarkets checkout line. Is just as bored and frustrated as I am. And that some of these people probably have much harder. More tedious and painful lives than I do. Again please don't think that I'm giving you moral advice. Or that I'm saying you are supposed to think this way. Or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. Because it's hard. It takes will and effort and if you are like me. Some days you won't be able to do it. Or you just flat out won't want to. 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 up lady. Who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she's not usually like this. Maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low wage clerk. At the motor vehicle department who just yesterday. Helped your spouse resolve a horrific infuriating. Red tape problem through some small act ofbureaucratic kindness. Of course none of this is likely but it's also not impossible It just depends what you what to consider. If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is.And you are operating on your default setting. Then you like me probably won't consider possibilities. That aren't annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to think how topay attention. Then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience. A crowded hot slow consumer hell type situation. As not only meaningful but sacred. On fire with the same force that made the stars. Love fellowship the mystical oneness of all things deep down. Not that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that's capital T True. Is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it. This I submit is the freedom of a real education. Of learning how to be well adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. That is real freedom that is being educated. And understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness. The default setting the rat race. The constant gnawing sense of having had. And lost some infinite thing. I know that this stuff probably doesn't sound fun and breezy. Or grandly inspirational the way a commencement speech. Is supposed to sound. What it is as far as I can see is the capital T Truth. With a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. You are of course free to think of it whatever you wish. But please don't just dismiss it as just some. Finger wagging Doctor Laura sermon. None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma. Or big fancy questions of life after death. The capital T Truth is about life before death It is about the real value of a real education. Which 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.

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