The Orion

Speech stresses long-term wellness

Julianna Eveland

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Julianna Eveland

Commencement speeches can be some of the most inspirational speeches out there.

It makes me yearn for the day I’ll sit in those fold up chairs, listening diligently to the words of the chosen speaker to leave my graduating class with words of motivation and hope.

But there’s one commencement speech I heard years ago that never got old. It still captivates me every time, and makes me look forward to the future.

Kurt Vonnegut begins his speech at Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the simple advice that most of us have been told since we were young: wear sunscreen.

Vonnegut speaks simply from his own personal experience. Stressing over obligations and responsibilities isn’t worth it. In the end, health and fullness of life are really what counts.

“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.”

My mom and dad have always given me words of advice from their own experience, their own sense of nostalgia.

They tell me not to worry about the little things. To focus on the present, enjoy my youth and keep things in perspective.

But hearing it from the mouth of someone else, in this case Kurt Vonnegut, makes me really take it to heart.

People can tell you what’s right and what’s wrong, the mistakes they’ve made and give advice on how to avoid those mistakes.

But the way a person comes to a point of being able to dispense their own advice, is through making their own mistakes and living through them.

Baz Luhrmann picked up the speech and ran with it, under toning Vonnegut’s words with a simple tune and titled it, “Wear Sunscreen.”

It brought a timelessness to the speech.

Vonnegut speaks of the worries we’ll come across that were not worth worrying about, the simplicities of life that often go overlooked, and the simple advice of loving yourself and your body while we’re young.

This commencement speech, paired with Baz Luhrmann’s music, has kept a place in my heart that brings a certain calmness and makes me feel like in the grand scheme of things, life is good, and everything will be fine.

Julianna Eveland can be reached at [email protected] or @janeca12 on Twitter.

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Speech stresses long-term wellness