Vonnegut's Speech

J. Prescott jprescot at PRIMENET.COM
Wed Aug 6 11:05:35 MDT 1997

this was about as delightful as anything i have read or heard in quite ome
time.  i have *heard* of the name of kurt vonnegut, but i can't say as i
can recall who he is.  the only thing that i even raised my eyebrows at was
his statement about choices, in that they are half chance.  i would have to
say that they are more of how much EFFORT you put into making them work out
if there is any *chance* to them.  the others are whether or not you made
the RIGHT choice.  for instance, there is little chance involved if
somebody decides to shoot somebody else.  wrong choice.


> From: William B. White <WHITEWB at JCCW22.CC.SUNYJCC.EDU>
> To: RUSHTALK at athena.csdco.com
> Subject: Vonnegut's Speech
> Date: Wednesday, August 06, 1997 10:05 AM
> From:   NAME: Bill White
>         TEL: 326/371                          <WHITE, BILL AT A1 AT
> To:     IN%"rushtalk at athena.csdco.com"@MRGATE at JCCW22
> Folks,
>         A friend posted this speech to me.
> Bill White
> ----------
> This speech was given by Kurt Vonnegut at MIT's commencement this year .
> 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.
> 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 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 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.
> Kurt Vonnegut, 6/97

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