Opinion | Clutch compassion toward life’s subsequent expedition
April 25, 2021
Life’s mundanity approaches. Across the illustrious stage — whether virtually or physically traversed — this ordinariness awaits with all its humdrum patterns.
Soon, assignments will be replaced by the pressing need for grocery shopping; nights out with friends will transfigure into cumbersome work socials; the climax of your day may eventually be the chit-chat conducted at the water-cooler. However monotonous these events sound, if properly enjoyed, these affairs can easily be the heart’s focal point.
Although these “dull” moments are not the most flattering, every opportunity in life remains precious to warrant your utmost consideration. Akin to leaving no stone unturned, no second is to go by without being grateful.
In one of the most pinnacle commencement speeches, literary titan David Foster Wallace chronicled this requirement to avoid life’s “automatic” way of thinking.
Undergoing “regular everydayness” is horrid — especially to those excitedly graduating. Wallace illuminates this frustrating nightmare when declaring, “I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic being disgusted about all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV’s and Hummers… burning their wasteful, selfish, 40-gallon tanks of gas…”
Nonetheless, this is no way to think. Wallace notes this as erroneous judgment as life’s “automatic” — thrusting those thwarted into an “end-of-the-day traffic” mentality. To combat this preprogrammed conviction, graduates must appreciate and utilize higher education’s principal gift: critical thinking.
Through valuing critical thinking, any mundane situation can swiftly modify into gripping junctures. Wallace demonstrates this by way of critically considering the “stupid Hummer” to be “driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him…and he’s in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way.”
Accordingly, when respecting critical thinking, one opens their world to profound compassion. Through thinking of others first — whether it be the grocery shopper who amicably greets you, the equally lonely employees at a work social or the work acquaintance who perceives “water-cooler chats” as the highlight of their day — life promptly becomes finer.
Critical thinking and compassion are choices. As much of an option as it is to relinquish determinations to tedious “automatics,” one also possesses the keys to engage in better reasoning and compassion.
Higher education is the location where critical thinking and compassion are relentlessly administered to students. After years of rigorous curriculums, life’s grand stage awaits. On the other side of this door, nevertheless, it is crucial to greet life with this sympathy.
With years of meticulous exposure to remarkable concepts, ideas and lessons, the present anticipates your next subsequent steps. From here on out, you are your own professor/advisor; as jarring as it may be, all decisions rest within your hands.
Because of this, it is vital that critical thinking accompany one’s life to ensure compassion is not abandoned.
There will be moments where supposed mediocrity cripples expectations, yet, above all else, prioritize contemplating alternatives. Wallace reminds everyone — primarily his commencement crowd — of this reality when asserting, “the only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it.”
This “capital-T” truth is that life is yours for the taking. Certainly, the “automatic” temptation towards vexation will occasionally impede, yet you remain in the driver’s seat.
Soon, you will experience debilitating traffic commuting to work. The choices, likewise, will be clear: Detest this daily dosage of auto-ascribed rage or welcome this opportunity to recognize everyone else is experiencing the same predicament. There is, additionally, freedom that exists with welcoming the latter selection.
Wallace concludes his address by proclaiming, “the freedom of a real education” is “learning how to be well-adjusted.”
No larger life adjustment arrives than in graduating. As such, one must adjust to devoting their energy to critical thinking and compassion. Being granted these tools through enlightening education, one is prepared with the best instruments known to humanity to honorably live.
Education is freedom. Despite the common comprehension that life post-schooling subsists entirely of the ordinary, one can employ liberating education to better apprehend life’s superior qualities.
Graduates, cherish those otherwise repetitive moments. Furthermore, be consciously kind to those who persist in the “automatic,” and if anything, illuminate them with one’s pensive empathy. Walk with compassion, and life’s path will assuredly be extraordinary.