"This Is Water."

I managed to eke out my PhD in twentieth-century English literature without reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Heck, I never read all of Ulysses, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I have, though, read (or at least run my eyes over the words) all of Thomas Wolfe’s novels, none of which I really liked, and all of which are very, very long.

Deep in the comments of the David Foster Wallace obituary on a raunchy blog I like to read, I found reference to his commencement speech given at Kenyon College in 2005. I thought I was lucky to catch his wonderful message; in checking that the lines were indeed his, though, I find the full speech quoted widely, for example, here.
But here they are anyway, so perfectly describing the truth of adult life, a truth that yoga and sports both highlight.

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 hell is water?” . . .

[T]he 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.”

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