I’m not usually someone for philosophical quotes and musings about life, love and whatnot (not anymore, at least). I don’t mind if other people like and post and share them but it’s rare that they appeal to me or move me because I’m generally more for doing stuff than talking about it. But this morning I turned on the radio after I’d gotten back from my run and there was a song playing and after my initial confusion because it wasn’t really what you’d call a song I started listening to the words and in that moment they actually did speak to me and did rather move me. (Maybe being slightly exhausted from running helped with that, I don’t know.)
So I listened and I tried to remember the name of the artist but couldn’t so later, I looked the song up on the radio station’s internet and then googled the artist and found out he was actually a film director and then found out that the words were originally from a column by Mary Schmich in the Chicago Tribune which Baz Luhrmann turned into this spoken word song called „Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)“.
The idea behind Schmich’s original column, published in June 1997 and called „Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young“, was to write a commencement speech, a speech she would give to graduating students if she was ever asked to do one. She starts off by saying that the only advice she’d ever really give was to wear sunscreen because the benefits of sunscreen were scientifically proven whereas all the rest of her advice which she then goes on to dispense was only based on her own experiences. Luhrmann – with Schmich’s permission – took the essay word for word and produced this song which has Lee Perry, an Australian actor, read the speech with music in the background.
I’m not sure exactly why I took an instant liking to this. As I said above, I’m usually not too keen on quotes that tell me I should laugh more, take more risks or be patient and everything will come to me. But this song with its rather ridiculous title had me nodding my head frequently when I heard it for the first time and again and even more when I listened for a second and a third time. Maybe it’s because off the odd hilarious sentences in between, such as „Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone“ or „Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85″. Maybe it’s the way the ‚advice‘ is phrased and the comparisons that are drawn. Or maybe it’s that the last bit of advice given is to „be careful whose advice you buy“ which makes it pretty clear that this is not to be taken too seriously.
Anyway: I was rather taken with this and it does have some beautiful lines so I decided to post and share this here. Apparently, this so-called song (there is no singing and only a little bit of music in there) was rather popular in the UK and the US, Australia and parts of Europe and there was even a German version of it with the title „Sonnencreme“, spoken by Dieter Brandecker.
Here we go, then. Enjoy:
Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future,
Sunscreen would be it.
The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists
whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…
I will dispense this advice now…
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth
Oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself
and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked…
You are not as fat as you imagine.
Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is ase ffective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind.
The kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday
Do one thing everyday that scares you.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts.
Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…
The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults.
If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…
The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives.
Some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t
Get plenty of calcium.
Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t,
maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t,
maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding
What ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either.
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body.
Use it every way you can…
Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it.
It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.
Dance… even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.
Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.
Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.
Be nice to your siblings
they are the best link to your past
and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on.
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle
because the older you get
the more you need the people you knew when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard
live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.
Accept certain inalienable truths:
prices will rise
politicians will philander.
You too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young
prices were reasonable
politicians were noble
and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders.
Don’t expect anyone else to support you.
Maybe you have a trust fund
maybe you have a wealthy spouse
but you never know when either one might run out.
Don’t mess too much with your hair
or by the time you’re 40, it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but
be patient with those who supply it.
Advice is a form of nostalgia
dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off
painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen.