Worshiping The Everyday Idol: Thoughts shared by David Foster Wallace

“Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.
– This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life (2009)

We all worship something… until we don’t.  Our everyday idols are so commonplace to us that we don’t even recognize that we devote so much of our life to them.  They become like the air we breath, or gravity that keeps us glued to the earth, they’re ubiquitous, everywhere and thus unseen.

You might say that these idols are our silent killers, but our unshakable devotion to them keeps the eye turning away from seeing the truth that is presented. Even reading this you may be unsure about what your idols are.

The beautiful worship their appearance, while the intelligent have their wit. The workaholic cannot leave the office and others are obsessed with being the “good one”. Some have to be right. Some have to be the person with the best whatever. Perhaps you look to your partner or children for your sense of fulfillment.

Not sure what your idols are?  Think about what upsets you.  Our triggers will show us what we are attached to and what we think we are.

On the surface idols appear to take different shapes and carry with them different outcomes, but this is only the surface. Under that outward appearance the attachments we have and outcomes to those attachments are the same.

Idols will never make you happy because they cannot. They do not contain what we are looking for. There is an illusion that as soon as we get somewhere/something (job promotion, have more sex, get someone to listen to us, lose weight, etc.) then we will be happy.

But go on your direct experience; think of how much you have accomplished in your life already. With everything you have accomplished and obtained, if your happiness could come from an accomplishment, don’t you think you’d be happy by now, have great self-esteem, and be at peace?

When it comes to happiness, you don’t need to search for it. Your only task is to remove obstacle that you have put up that block it from shining through you.  As long as you are looking for it outside yourself in an idol you will forever be chasing something that has no ability to make you happy.

 If get a chance, listen to this commencement speech by David Foster Wallace. It is really quite brilliant.