“The next suitable person you’re in light conversation with…

This is one I’d like to try. Funny, and frightening how true this is of people. I’ll have to put Wallace’s book on my reading list.

Words for the Year

“The next suitable person you’re in light conversation with, you stop suddenly in the middle of the conversation and look at the person closely and say, “What’s wrong?” You say it in a concerned way. He’ll say, “What do you mean?” You say, “Something’s wrong. I can tell. What is it?” And he’ll look stunned and say, “How did you know?” He doesn’t realize something’s always wrong, with everybody. Often more than one thing. He doesn’t know everybody’s always going around all the time with something wrong and believing they’re exerting great willpower and control to keep other people, for whom they think nothing’s ever wrong, from seeing it.”

David Foster Wallace, The Pale King

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4 thoughts on ““The next suitable person you’re in light conversation with…

    • Well, there are always things beyond control. I would say the majority of my life is marvelous. I do worry about finances, which are always problematic. I also worry about the health of my sons, my youngest especially, as he’s had more than his share of challenges this year.

      So even though working in a library, publishing my poetry and being loved and cherished are all things that make me feel like my life is so together, there are always those other variables.

      Beyond that, I think the folks who do have it together are truly very rare. Life is both joy and sorrow, though poets of different stripes seem to focus on one and not the other.

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    • Well, time passes and we cease to worry so much, that’s the thing. I don’t think there’s a life without bumps in the road, but I know people who just rock on … a sort of Buddhist mentality, though not quite that.

      There’s also the perspective some take that others are truely suffering, the folks in places like Syria and Gaza. I’ve never had to worry about bombs falling, for example, though one did on my hometown, New York. Carrying a fear of that happening (even after “Failsafe” – 1964) wouldn’t have stopped it.

      Sounds like you have your ducks in a row, so to speak (no coffee yet, sorry to be trite), and that you are aware and conscious and planning/prepared. Would seem to me you have it covered, David. Bravo!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I agree that we all carry heavy burdens, and paraphrasing Thoreau, the mass of men (and women) do indeed live indeed live lives of quiet desperation. I too live an incredibly blessed life, but nearly always there are things of great concern to me such as the health or safety of a loved one. Thank you for your thought-provoking and heart-connecting post, David.

    Liked by 1 person

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