The essay “This is Water” by David Foster Wallace is exceptionally insightful and simultaneously useful to the average person. Wallace dives into considerable detail when connecting a hypothetical, yet very relatable, daily routine to one’s mindset. He lists many inconveniences, one right after another, in this routine with most very relatable. Even reading the example builds a very subtle flame in the reader, as if just reading it annoys them. Then is when he or she realizes, they are almost always in this “mindset.”
This subconscious, fragile peace that is typically built in one’s morning, is shattered into any infinitely annoying number of pieces due to every little petty inconvenience one experienced that day. The simple mindset of self-centeredness is almost universally adopted, although unconsciously. This mindset is easily proven unreasonable when compared to the other option. The option that simply removes oneself from that center, deity-like position and for once one might think of excuses for someone else. Wallace’s essay “This is Water” starts simply with a small story, a few examples later and then ends with a powerful explanation of a better view of the outside world. Wallace begins with a slightly humorous story that proves effective in introducing his first points. He describes how the significant truths of life seem to be difficult to imagine and even taboo-like in conversation. He would then go on to explain how such a taboo mindset could manifest itself in such a large portion of society. The mindset is natural and easy to use. People do not like to place blame on themselves; therefore, it is easiest to throw it to the next person. Wallace makes the next logical step and presents the evidence of one’s entire life experiences, proving to them that they are the center of the universe from their view.
Every experience they ever experienced was felt; no one had to tell them what he or she experienced or thought at that moment. Following that logic, one must assume that everything that obstructs oneself from doing anything is targeted precisely toward them. Wallace then disclosed the inconceivably important second option. The other choice is to simply remove oneself from the center. One can no longer see themselves as the sole target of all actions. The process of removing oneself from an encounter mentally and assuming the role of the other party is difficult and for some too much work for the moment. Since such choice is difficult, it can only be as such, a choice. Unless one makes a habit of thinking in such a way, making this choice will have to be an active effort and one must essentially monitor one’s thoughts. The level of control over one’s own thoughts must be virtually absolute in those frustrating moments. The benefits to this mindset may not appear to be worth the effort to some, and many choose to keep the natural mindset. In the long term, the selfless mindset will help one keep a more stable and healthy mental state. (Wallace 1-8) After all, why do people still choose the selfish mindset when there is a clear, better option. Because of the responsibility required, some people are unable to take blame or accept that one cannot always be first. For example, when I started driving I quickly adopted the idea that I will get to my destination whenever I get there. Other drivers could sit and not pay attention, but they will have to move eventually. I could sit and find no gap in cars for many minutes, but eventually there would be a gap large enough to enter traffic safely. I did not care how much time I spent on the road, therefore, I did not care if another driver cut in front of me or drove slowly. The other drivers on the road do not intentionally get in front of me and drive slowly. Wallace effectively writes, “…you get to decide how you’re going to try and see it” (6). He reinforces the idea that there is another side to most actions that would otherwise frustrate or annoy someone.
The fact is, one must simply accept that inconvenience is a factor of life. I strongly believe that if one is to have a less stressful or frustrating life, they must adopt this mindset. On a world stage, it is much more difficult to notice the ones with the mindset that they are the most important person in the world because they would lose support if they showed this. Nevertheless, some do stand out with the most notorious being the North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un. Kim Jong Un is so self-centered, he has made his people believe he is a god or deity. He believes that everyone in the world is actively working to thwart his regime. He builds his army and especially his nuclear arsenal to be ready for any possible invader. It is not a coincidence that other smaller nations, like Switzerland or Latvia, do not continue to threaten and build a nuclear arsenal.
The situation is finally deescalating after many decades of minimal progress. Nevertheless, the harsh dictator is likely to never change his ways, regardless of peace efforts and agreements; his people will still believe he is a god. They will continue to starve and fight for him with blind loyalty. Why would Kim Jong Un forfeit this power and position? He would never choose to relieve himself of his power, and it is unlikely he will make many more motions to becoming a more peaceful nation after denuclearizing. Overall, Kim Jong Un is one of the most self-centered and paranoid leaders alive. The complete repositioning of the view of other people through one’s brain is and always will be a daunting task to reliably complete. Such a commitment to make a more stable mind is not for everyone. The benefits of this mindset will surely motivate any person that is willing to adopt this, to adopt it. The long-term benefits to one’s mental state pale in comparison to remaining in the center of one’s universe. Considering the possible implications of altering this keystone unconscious belief begin to quickly outweigh the other option to unreasonable proportions.