everybody’s free (to wear sunscreen)

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’99, wear sunscreen.
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, never mind
You will never understand the power
And the beauty of your youth until they’ve faded
But trust me, in twenty years
You will 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 as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation
By chewing bubble gum.
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things
That never crossed your worried mind
The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday

Do one thing every day that scares you; sing.
Don’t be reckless with other peoples’ hearts
Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours. Floss.
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 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. Stretch.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what 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 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 anniversary.
Whatever 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 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 your best link to your past,
And the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go
But with a precious few, you should hold on.

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle
For as 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.

Travel. 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’ll have a wealthy spouse
But you’ll never know when either one will run out.
Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re forty
It will look eighty-five.
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
Wishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off
Painting over the ugly parts and recycling for more than it’s worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen.

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