I’ve been saying a lot lately that it seems like Dover is slowing down.
I’m no speed demon, but when I can sing Hey, Jude from beginning to end before the woman in front of me manages to complete the right turn into her driveway, then you know that there’s a problem.
Still, I’m thankful today to be reminded of something I read several years ago from David Foster Wallace’s 2005 Kenyon College Commencement Address, about our response to situations just like that:
“The point is that petty, frustrating [stuff] like this is exactly where the work of choosing comes in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m going to be [angry] and miserable every time I have to food-shop, because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me, about my hungriness and my fatigue and my desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem, for all the world, like everybody else is just in my way, and who…are all these people anyway?
…The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom.”
– excerpt from a reprint of Wallace’s address in The Best American Non-required Reading 2005