Stream of Consciousness

Earlier this month I sent the following to several close friends, and later followed up by posting it in a listserv dedicated to David Foster Wallace. I think you will quickly understand why I decided to share this with you, too.

Imagine having a consciousness that can look out on an Illinois morning and see the following, and express it:

“Past the flannel plains and blacktop graphs and skylines of canted rust, and past the tobacco-brown river overhung with weeping trees and coins of sunlight through them on the water downriver, to the place beyond the windbreak, where untilled fields simmer shrilly in the A.M. heat: shattercane, lamb’s-quarter, cutgrass, sawbrier, nutgrass, jimsonweed, wild mint, dandelion, foxtail, muscadine, spinecabbage, goldenrod, creeping charlie, butter-print, nightshade, ragweed, wild oat, vetch, butcher grass, invaginate volunteer beans, all heads gently nodding in a morning breeze like a mother’s soft hand on your cheek. An arrow of starlings fired from the windbreak’s thatch. The glitter of dew that stays where it is and steams all day. A sunflower, four more, one bowed, and horses in the distance standing rigid and still as toys. All nodding. Electric sounds of insects at their business. Ale-colored sunshine and pale sky and whorls of cirrus so high they cast no shadow. Insects all business all the time. Quartz and chert and schist and chondrite iron scabs in granite. Very old land. Look around you. The horizon trembling, shapeless. We are all of us brothers.”

That’s the opening paragraph in the late David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King.

Every once in a while, not often enough, I use this to remind myself of how much I’m not seeing. Look at that and think about all that you miss when you glance at the landscape or your mate or kids.

I am just blown away that David’s stream of consciousness was like a river compared to my faucet drip, and I have to wonder how much of my own life I have missed out on because of that. Amazing.