My favorite writer is David Foster Wallace. When he killed himself in 2008, I was on LA’s 10 Freeway near the Museum of Tolerance, listening to NPR. DFW gave a commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005 that’s been popularized — a sort of commencement TED Talk — and he started that speech with a joke. Two fish are swimming along, and an older fish swims by and asks, “Morning boys, how’s the water?” And the two fish look at each other and say, “What the hell is water?” He goes on to articulate a “truth with a whole lot of rhetorical bullshit pared away.” And the truth is that we are not to swim against the current, or to pursue action without consciousness. The good life is about finding awareness; repeatedly discovering that “This is water, this is water.”
Modern bohemian style was birthed in the revolutionary movements of the hippies, feminists and Beats of the post-WWII era. And, to pull it off today, it’s perhaps best to heed the water joke more than any pithy epigrams on tides or currents. In a fast-twitch mental environment, find the water first, then figure out where you want to swim.