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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 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’re 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 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 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 anniversary…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 in 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 it’s 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…

Written by: MARY SCHMICH for the Chicago Tribune

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Baz Luhrmann writes:

Anton Monsted, Josh Abrahams and I were working on a remix of Everybody's Free when Ant showed me something he had received from a friend by e-mail; apparently Kurt Vonnegut's graduation speech to students at MIT. On reading it, Vonnegut's simple observations and ideas seemed to provide a profoundly useful guide for getting through life, and we instantly decided to record it. The problem was we only had a day or two to go on the deadline and contacting Vonnegut's agent in time was impossible. The idea seemed unlikely. It was two o'clock in the morning, and this somewhat depressed us, so Anton plugged his computer into the wall and surfed the net to find more information on contacting Vonnegut.

What he found was to surprise us all: newspaper articles on what had become the "Sunscreen Controversy" and what was to prove an amazing moment in the early life of the internet. Anton was immediately printing out news of how the work of a brilliant columnist for the Chicago Tribune had been lifted from her column, and a student as a hoax had connected Vonnegut's name and chain e-mailed it to students all over the world. The words struck a chord with those who read them, and so Vonnegut's "sunscreen speech" was born.

It was now four o'clock in the morning and we sat stunned as we read pieces of information. It seemed to us, whether Vonnegut wrote it or not, the ideas in the piece make such great sense. Back onto the internet again, and we were e-mailing Mary Schmich, the young journalist who wrote it for the Chicago Tribune.

Fortunately, Mary had quite a connection to both Strictly Ballroom and Romeo + Juliet, so a day later we were in Sydney recording with a local actor the spoken element of what is now "Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen)." What I think is extraordinary, apart from the inherent values in the ideas, is that we were experiencing ourselves a historical moment in the life of the internet, an example of how massive publishing power is in the hands of anyone with access to a PC.
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