Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wear Sunscreen: A Primer for Real Life

From the book:
Mary Schmich’s timeless advice was delivered in the newspaper and, through a twist of fate, became a phenomenon. Now the “Wear Sunscreen” video is a YouTube hit seen by millions of viewers.
It all began with a column titled “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young,” an imagined graduation speech, written by Mary Schmich and published in the Chicago Tribune on June 1, 1997. Posted on the Internet, Schmich’s column quickly became an international sensation. Friends emailed it to friends, the media picked up on it, and a star is born. There was only one problem: Everyone thought the column was an actual commencement address given by author Kurt Vonnegut.
Eventually, Mary Schmich was correctly identified as the author and her clever, poignant column became a best-selling gift book and a Billboard hit song from director Baz Luhrmann.
My two cents worth:
I recently served my last day of employment with a company that I’ve been attached to for a while. When it was nearing time for me to leave, my team came up to me and presented me with a book written by Mary Schmich called Wear Sunscreen and as they presented this, they sang a tune from Baz Luhrmann’s musical version inspired by the same essay. I believe the reaction they were seeking for was recognition to the book or the tune. Unfortunately, all I could give them was a smile and a blank stare. Horrified that I was not familiar to either the tune (sorry guys but you sang a bad tune, I really didn't recognize the music at that point) or the book, one of my colleagues picked up a pillow from my seat and started hitting me with it a couple of times while he wails in disappointment (seriously, he actually did this) “How can you not hear about Wear Sunscreen????”... I’m sure you can imagine my confusion as I wondered what the big deal was.

I was then given a quick educational lecture on Mary Schmich’s phenomenal work. Wear Sunscreen was a popular motivational piece sometime in the 90’s... (That explains it! How the hell was I supposed to remember every forwarded email that I’ve read in the 90’s when I can’t even remember what I read yesterday???) Anyway, it was so popular that Baz Luhrmann, a popular Australian film director, screen writer and producer created a music video based on the full text of Wear THAT I've heard before especially if you grew up in the 90’s, you'd definitely be familiar with this tune.

As for the book, it takes only about five minutes to finish it. As I read it, I vaguely remember coming across the article or maybe it was just my brain giving false information as I desperately search my memory on whether I’ve actually read this essay before. Anyway, whether I’ve read it or not is not important. What is important is that the advice provided in Wear Sunscreen is inspirational and charming. It’s funny and can be a quick ‘pick-up’ for down moments in life. Schmich has provided very sound and useful advice and a great reminder on what is really important in life and Luhrmann brought the essay alive with the music video.

I also went on YouTube to refresh my memory on Baz Luhrmann’s version and I’m attaching the video here. I’m sure you’ll appreciate this music video too once you’ve seen it. It’s definitely a beautiful and motivational piece. Enjoy...

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