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Saturday, April 14, 2007

We will miss you Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut's Commencement Address at Mit.

Ladies and gentlemen:

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 proven 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 4:00 p.m. 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

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

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.


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

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