…But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, 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.                                                                                                                                                                                              (david foster wallace)

I’ve been reading a lot of Wallace recently, and by ‘a lot’ I mean this speech, over and over. Until I find the thing that will ignite my brain again, there’s comfort in reading familiar friends and phrases I love and reveling (as always) in his superior grasp of and play with language.

And asking myself what, exactly, is it that resonates with me, why did I feel such urgency to have some of this sentiment tattooed where I’d see it every day? Specific words echo in my brain: attention, awareness, discipline. Petty, unsexy, every single day. Consciously deciding what to pay attention to, especially as 31 closes in and things I held dear for so long aren’t dear anymore. The unimaginably hard day-in-day-out work of constructing meaning from experience, of understanding how to think.