Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

Bought a new album today because I wanted Des’Re’s “Kissing You” from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and I fell madly in love with the last track on the album, “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”.  It comes from an article written by Mary Schmich in the Chicago Tribune entitled, “Advice, like youth, probably wasted on the young.”*  I really enjoy it a lot, so I thought I’d share it if you haven’t already read it.

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 advise has no basis more reliable than my on meandering experience.  I will dispense this advise now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth.  But nevermind, you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they fade.  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 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 blindsided you at four pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.  Sing.  Don’t be reckless with other people’s 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 your 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 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 at 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 elses.

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’re 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, 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.  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 never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you’re 40 it’ll look 85.

Be careful whose advise you buy, but be patient with those who supply it.  Advise 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.

Awesome, eh?  I like it a lot.

Still haven’t edited my photos from my trip to Tokyo and Yokohama.  I’m editing my book.

*In other words, I don’t own this, and you should go buy either the song or the book produced by Ms. Schmich because, honestly, it’s pretty dang rockin.

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