Words to live by: Don’t settle, wear sunscreen, and for heaven’s sake, share

June 4, 2009

It’s graduation time.   I always enjoy this time of year because I think such an important life passage is to be honored, appreciated, and remembered.

Plus I love to read graduation-related books and speeches.  I have no idea why.  Maybe it is because graduating always made me incredibly happy! (As opposed to studying.)  Several years ago I read the commencement address Steve Jobs gave at Stanford and I thought it was particularly inspirational.  I found the speech on YouTube and thought I’d post it here for your viewing pleasure.

Then there’s the famous, Wear Sunscreen “commencement speech” that was actually not a speech at all, but a “Here’s what I would say if anybody ever asked me to give a graduation speech” essay.  A column originally published in the Chicago Tribune, it was written by Mary Schmich but initially attributed to Kurt Vonnegut incorrectly on the Internet.   Listen to a fascinating interview with Schmich here. (Note:  the actual program doesn’t start until about 30 seconds into the audio.)  You can also read the full text of the Schmich’s beloved column here.

I recently purchased a book called What Now?: Words of wisdom for life after graduation by Jennifer Leigh Selig.  I absolutely love this book for all the wisdom packed in 333 pages.   I was thinking I would give this book to my son as a gift since he’s graduating this year.

But I’m not sure I can part with it.  Maybe I’ll just have to distill it for him and give him a series of envelopes with the best of the words of wisdom collected from a variety of  sources such as I’ve mentioned and other books like, All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.   A batch of envelopes with advice will likely be a better delivery method than my usual barrage of motherly “guidance” because it can be managed…apportioned over a longer period of time…sort of like time released medicine!  (I can pretty much guarantee he’s not likely to rip open all the envelopes and pore over them on graduation day.  Unless he thinks there’s money inside.)   So that’s my plan.  I feel it’s appropriate that I send him on his journey with a box full of…words.

My son’s first envelope might look like this:

Wear sunscreen.  Never settle.  Always do your best.  Work hard.  Pay your bills. Vote.  Get a library card.  Practice the golden rule.  Don’t live beyond your means.  Be respectful.  Love deeply.  Live honestly.  Laugh often.  And for heaven’s sake, share.

Darn.  That’s too many ideas for one envelope.    Maybe I should just have one idea per envelope with supporting documentation.

Expanding on the sharing idea, how about this for the first one?

Give to a worthy cause.

It just so happens I’ve got the perfect supporting documentation for that idea  in the form of a Foster Growth library capital campaign brochure, complete with a form for easy donating.


Warmest congratulations to the entire class of 2009, especially to library staffers Eric, Elizabeth, and Tirzah as well as David and Hans (not staffers, but close).    You’ve worked hard to get where you are today.   May each of you find that your next chapter is filled with all the best that life has to offer.  And lots of bottles of sunscreen.

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