Two young fish are 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?” 

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?”


The point of the story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.

It is about being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.

It is about 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.”

It is unimaginably hard to do this; to stay conscious and alive in the world, day in and day out.

But this is the world we live in.

“This is paradise.”

“This is paradise.”

Some of this content was originally written by David Foster Wallace as a commencement speech to a graduating class.