Recommendations to the generations

Wear sunscreen

If I could offer only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved 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 the photos and recall how fabulous you really looked at the time. 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 problem by chewing gum. Real troubles are apt to blind-side you at 4 p.m. on an idle Tuesday.

Do one thing daily that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Remember compliments, forget insults.

Keep old love letters. Throw away old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't know what they want to do with theirs.

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 or berate yourself too much. Your choices are half chance, like everybody else's.


Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

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.

Be nice to your siblings. They're the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. The older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.


Accept these certain truths:
Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too will get old.
And then you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians wer 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 to 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 and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

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Created on ... November 08, 2003