Choose Life

There is a verse in the Bible which includes the exhortation “I call heaven and earth as witness today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life!”

I have always loved that verse because of the very active emphasis on the word choose. The command is to choose, not to live, or live well, but to choose.

The reality of our lives lies between belief that we have some control over our world, and fear that we are at the mercy of random chance. What we always have, however, is choice about how to hold, frame, and behave in a world where control and random chance play against each other like streams of water carrying a leaf.

I recently came across this amazing commencement address by David Foster Wallace from 2005. I recommend listening to it – it captures these themes so perfectly – and it is worth taking the 20 minutes of uninterrupted time to do so.

This is water–David Wallace Foster

(Link here for those for whom the embed doesn’t show.)

Since this was triggered by me quoting a religious text, I suggest, along the lines of Alain de Botton’s “Atheism 2.0” TED Talk, that you listen to Wallace’s “This is water” every year, perhaps when Deuteronomy 30:19 is being read in the annual cycle of readings in Synagogue.

1 comment:

Gregg Stern said...

I encountered the DFW commencement talk recently as well, as I occasionally follow John Green's Vlog -- my children are devotees --who's just mentioned it. BTW, the word "synagogue" probably should not be capitalized in this context. Shana tova!