Recycling the Past for More Than It’s Worth

Something about dating a guy, who was born in the early 1990s, left me nostalgic for that decade. It’s probably because I kept trying to wrap my mind around the fact that he was only a one year old when No Doubt came out with their hit song “Don’t Speak” and he was two when Baz Luhrmann blew me away with “Romeo+Juliet.” It struck me that he couldn’t have had a chance to play the original Oregon Trail or Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?. Most likely, he can’t remember what computers used to be like back then. Our age difference wasn’t exactly a deal-breaker but I felt like he missed out on a golden era of pop culture (it’s tragic enough to me that I wasn’t old enough to appreciate the 80s before they were over).

A particular gem of the 90s is Baz Luhrmann’s graduation speech that he gave to the class of 1999 and set to music for the rest of us to appreciate. I was only graduating from middle school when it first came out but it resurfaced when I finished high school. Thanks to pinterest, I rediscovered it just before the new year. Listening to his words again, I thought about how my own meandering experience has been teaching me many of the same things.

He says at the end that “advice is a form of nostalgia.Dispensing it is a way of wishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.” If that is true than it seems fitting to pass on the advice from him that struck me most during this listening. Still at the start of a new year, it is a perfect time to dispense with the past before moving forward into the future:

“Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.”

“Don’t worry about the future. Or worry but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.”

“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.”

“Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

“Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone.”

“Be nice to your siblings. They are your best link to the past and the most likely to stick with you in the future.”

“Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on.”

“Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because, the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.”

What advice would you like to dispense with before we go further into 2013?

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