Thursday, June 13, 2013


This video was included in a Facebook response to a blog post of mine recently. I guess it's been around for a little bit, but I didn't see it until recently. It is an excerpt given by David Foster Wallace in 2005. It was turned into a video earlier this year by The Glossary.

The video is really good, and it definitely resonates with me--I just graduated from college and got a "high-stress job." I am learning "what day-in and day-out means." I do think it's a little amusing that he's so anxious not to moralize; but then, I am very religious. Anyway, here's the video. It's about 9 minutes long, which is probably longer than most of you spend on this blog in a day, but it's worth a view if you haven't seen it.

As I watched the video, I couldn't help but think about how my transit habit has both subverted and exacerbated the problem DFW describes here. While I spend my stuck-in-traffic time reading or composing (both of which are generally relaxing, with few exceptions), I certainly had the commute to end all commutes for the last couple of years. And I get exposed to the masses of uninspiring humanity DFW describes both at the grocery store and all the way to the grocery store.

But I think riding transit for years has helped me to inadvertently come to the conclusion that the universe does not revolve around me, and that other people may have intricate, heartrending stories behind their public unpleasantness. I have heard conversations on the bus I would never have been able to make up outside of it. Conversations that remind me that, even on the worst of days, I actually have it really good.

And I have come to appreciate these experiences and the awareness of uninspiring humanity that they give me. I would far rather live that way than insulated inside a nice car and an upscale neighborhood, pretending that uninspiring humanity does not exist until I am unpleasantly confronted with it asking me for money, etc. Which is not to say that I don't intend to provide as good a life for my children as I can, but I certainly intend riding transit to be an important part of their cultural education. They need to see the other humans from time to time.

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