This is Water by David Foster Wallace
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This tiny book was on a display of "What will you do with your life" books at the main library where I work. It is the text of the commencement speech David Foster Wallace gave at Kenyon College in 2005.
It is impossible to read this without his tragic end in my head, and I wish I could. His specific mentions of suicide are completely cringeworthy. The whole point that he makes is that if you have the right perspective, life is manageable, even good. I'm really sorry he had such a struggle, and our lives are worse off now that he is gone.
Despite that, I still believe the words he says. Is this optimism or idiocy? Who can tell. Maybe mind over matter is just simply not enough all the time.
"But if you've really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have 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 lit the stars - compassion, love, the subsurface unity of all things."