Have you seen this Baz Luhrmann video of the essay “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young,” by Chicago Tribune writer Mary Schmich? (If you’re one of my personal friends, I know you have because I annoyingly force everyone I meet to watch it.) It is my single favorite song/essay/advice column/speech/video that I’ve ever seen. I heard it for the first time five years ago, when I was lying in a peaceful Savasana pose and my yoga teacher played it. From that moment, it changed my life.
Every line just made so much sense to me yet was so profound. I knew I had to have access to it all the time. I downloaded it on my ipod and would listen to it every once in awhile, but what always surprised me was that like magic, whenever I needed to hear any single line of advice from the song, it would find me. whenever I would be listening to my ipod on shuffle I could count on this to play not only when I least expected it, but when I most needed it.
I return to it often, although I have it entirely memorized now, and depending on the day, certain lines of it become my mantra. Right now it’s this line…
“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…”
Being 22 and a recent graduate, now more than ever I feel like the essay is directed straight at me, perhaps because it began as a graduation speech for the class of ’97.
The story behind the essay, published in 1997, is as interesting as the essay itself. Mary Schmich, a Chicago Tribune reporter, wrote and published the essay as a column called “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.” However, it was attributed (on the internet) to a commencement speech by popular author Kurt Vonnegut at MIT, and both the subject & tone of the piece are similar to the 1927 poem ”Desiderata“. Read the entire interesting story here.