As ever, it fell to them to tell him not to live so much in his head. They made fun of him for being too analytical and offered him slogans like “Keep It Simple” and “Be Nice to Myself” and “Stop Trying to Figure Everything Out”… The banality of the of the responses maddened Wallace, but here he was drug-and-alcohol-free after almost four years, thanks to people like them. “It starts to turn out that the vapider the AA cliche, the sharper the canines of the real truth it covers,” he would write in Infinite Jest. “I don’t know how recovery works,” he would tell friends, “but it works.”
–D.T. Max, Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, p. 179
The retreat I attended recently was on “mindfulness” and covered many of the same “truisms” I’ve come across before; it felt like New Age 101. The beautiful setting, the repetition of positive aphorisms, the group sharing, the deep relaxation, and the feeling of community worked its magic, however, and I came back to “reality” feeling energized and upbeat. Yes, it can feel vapid, and yes, it can work. I suppose we are all so stressed out and isolated that we require a regular uplift.