Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young

This piece was presented as Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT in 1997. It's great stuff, but apparently it wasn't written or delivered by Vonnegut. It's still a beautiful piece...

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97:

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 not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've 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 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 blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day 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 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 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 of 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 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 who knew you 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 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.

But actually this is not the commencement speech @ MIT in 1997, In fact, the commencement speaker at MIT in 1997 was Kofi Annan and the supposed Vonnegut speech was an article published in the Chicago Tribune on June 1, 1997 by columnist Mary Schmich. It is also known as Wear Sunscreen or Sunscreen Speech. It's an essay actually called "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young"

The most popular and well-known form of the essay is the successful music single released in 1999, accredited to Baz Luhrmann.

To know more about Kurt Vonnegut click HERE.

To get the song Click

To get the actual press report click HERE.

Now to answer questions as to why i am posting all this in my blog; it's quite simple and a sad fact. Its coz my college life ends in
19 days and 12 hours and some precious seconds. I put this as a post in my blog coz the speech makes a lot of sense, i got hold of this speech at 1st when i was browsing through videos on YouTube after uploading the video that Nikhil, a classmate of mine had made from the collection of pictures from the past four years of our college life. Its been a saga that i just can't tell in one post. I have mentioned a lot of things that have happened over the past years through a post some months back. Now it hits me how hard it is to leave college.

This is that video, trust me it will take you back to your college days(or school days for juniors). Great work macha! Hats off to you!

So as i said while uploading this video i was browsing through various other videos that were in the genre of "last days @ college", "Life @ college" and so on, and like many other things the IITians came on top for this too! They have the most outrageous collection of videoz about their life in those "temples of engineering", than any other college will have. Maybe it's due to the mega wide bandwidth they get their for free, but even then kudos to the guys who take time out of their ultra-tight schedule and make these videos.

This is the video that made me look for this speech. Hats off to you guys too!

Talking about speeches. Till date the best speech that i have ever heard was the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computers and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005 at the Stanford University.

It goes something like this:

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.....

You can get the rest of it HERE. I got to hear this speech for the 1st time at a quiz which Abhilash sir conducted some years back. It had been a tremendous source of inspiration from that day onwards. It makes me feel that anyone can be anything if they follow their dreams.

So the point of this whole blog, well;
I don't know. Though i will share something useful that i found at 3 am in the morning! Still interested?? Check out my fav videoz HERE.

It really hurts to bid adieu to my alma mater for the past 4 years.