I'm thankful I listened to Foster Wallace give a commencement speech to a group of graduating college students. What he had to say resounded with me, even though we may think and believe differently in some other areas.
“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 then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes 'What the heck is water?'
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.”
2014 really could be the best year yet for the Dickson family. It's going to be filled with weddings, babies, a trip to Israel, joyful transitions, new beginnings with school, work, and friends. For the first time in my life, the Lord has given me a specific 'vision' for years to come for our family. I know that this vision can change and be filled with a lot of surprises and detours, but it's just cool to actually have a plan that I'm excited about.
With all of this, I can count on there being a lot of busyness. There will be a lot of stuff that demands my mind's attention and my heart's affection. There will be opportunity after opportunity to leave the present moment and go to 'another world' in my mind, and leave behind what's right in front of me. What a deadly, lifeless trap this is for me...
I'm excited to dream and plan for the future. I'm beyond excited about going to the Holy Land with my wife and some of our best friends. However, if I miss out on the here and now, I've missed out on the really good stuff. If I don't learn to live in the moment and be aware of my surroundings at the supermarket this week, I've missed the mark. I will have missed out on life. And here's one of the things that I believe the Lord has been telling me as of late:
The next, (whatever that is), will come through the now.
I know a lot of people, including myself, that love to talk about the next thing going on or coming up in life, but have a hard time recognizing, discussing, and living in the now. And to them and myself, I say, 'Wake up you little sleeper."
Foster continues by telling the students,
“If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out."
"Look, the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default-settings. They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing. And the world will not discourage you from operating on your default-settings, because the world of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the “rat race” — the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing."
I wish you way more than luck in 2014.