Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Unheeded Advice

Right before my son left for a scout camp in Moab last week I told him, "Oh, I've got the perfect song for you. Listen carefully, you need to hear this!" I then searched my music collection and found an old favorite: Baz Lurmann's Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen). I've always agreed to the lyrics and the more I listen to them, the more I agree with everything said. So for five minutes my son listened to these words:

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’re not as fat as you

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

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 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

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

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…

After "singing" along to most of this song I turned to him and said, "Do you get it?"


"Do you get what I'm trying to say to you?"

Brow creases with deep thought. "No, I don't get the point of that."

"Argh!! Wear sunscreen! He said it like fifteen times in that song! You are going to Moab for crying out loud." Okay, in retrospect I'm sure he only says it twice but, come on, everybody calls it the "Sunscreen Song. "

And, of course, four days later he came home about three shades darker than when he left, with a hint of red. Did he wear sunscreen? No!

Some day I hope he understands the wisdom that I try to bestow upon him.


  1. What?!?! That was the most clear thing that Baz Lurmann ever created! And he still didn't get it, huh?

    Though, I think my favorite Lurmann is Strictly Ballroom. Try that one. Your son will never forgive you.

  2. I'd have to duct tape him to a chair to get him to sit through that. A lot of duct tape! And he'd probably just fall asleep to get out of it anyways.

  3. Ha ha ha!! I was thinking about this song the other day.

    Trouble with wisdom is that no one wants to be 'taught'...we have to learn it the hard way, which makes me think of that song by Thirsty Merc: "The Hard Way" lol. But, even though the message in The Sunscreen song is clear...I still didn't wear sunscreen. Just show your son a sun-damaged 40 yo. That should work. But then again, I have 3 sons, and they have to pinned down to do anything that's good for them.