Vonnegut's Speech

PapaPaul febboy at IX.NETCOM.COM
Wed Aug 6 11:10:53 MDT 1997


Thanks, William, for KV's advice!  Made me laugh,
made me want to burst into tears, made me smile
again, with a wry twist.  Sage advice, indeed.

PapaPaul

>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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