Hiding in Plain Sight
"There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says 'Morning, boys. How’s the water?' And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes 'What the hell is water?'"
—David Foster Wallace, "This is Water"
We are all subject to hidden assumptions. Ideas about the world around us that are so deeply embedded in us that we are not even aware of their existence. Beliefs about ourselves that we are incapable of seeing, let alone examining objectively. Patterns occurring automatically, outside of consciousness.
How our first heartbreak decades ago shaped the argument we had with our spouse last night.
How the automatic responses of our parents—themselves likely a mere reflection of their own parents, and their parents before them—cause us grief with our children. Generational hand-me-downs we accepted unconsciously and unquestioningly.
How the merciless teasing of our adolescence became the first chapter of a narrative whose central theme still dictates our life, no matter how outdated.
Then, if we're lucky, we wake up. We see what has been hiding in plain sight. The stories we've been telling ourselves come into focus. Everything changes.
We know what water is. And with this gift of awareness, can we start to consciously choose our own story.