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Words of wisdom

Analise Lipari | Thursday, May 14, 2009

Do you remember that song about sunscreen? It wasn’t really a song, to be honest. It was more of a list, a collection of advice seemingly gleaned from someone’s life adventures. I remember the singer/narrator discussing the difference between moving to NorCal and moving to SoCal. He also mentioned that the wisest people he knew still had no idea where their lives were headed, along with a slew of other random observations. Each had the air of experience, despite bordering on cheese until the song’s final second.

The anchor point, you might recall, was wearing sunscreen. He told us to be smart and lather up, to metaphorically protect ourselves from the bad rays that could break through our barriers. Or, you know, to ward off skin cancer and its malignant brethren.

Even today, I still don’t remember to wear sunscreen every time I go outside. I should, given that I practically reflect sunlight during the winder months, and have yet to adjust to the oncoming summer sun beyond the errant freckle on my nose.

But beyond the sunscreen, beyond the pseudo-wisdom, was an idea that I actually liked: taking a minute (or more) to tell someone else what you’ve learned from life. The exercise might seem kind of pompous coming from a 22-year-old undergraduate (sweet Lord, I’m a 22-year-old undergraduate), but I’ll keep going nonetheless. I won’t tell you to wear sunscreen, because you already know your own bits of wisdom. If anything, this is a chance for me to sit back and reflect. Maybe you’ll recognize some of what I came to know in your own experience under the Dome. If not, you can use my printed column as packing material when you box up your lives on Monday morning.

First, take the canyon jumping approach to life. I’ll explain. When I studied abroad, I took a trip to Interlaken, Switzerland, the “Extreme Sports Capital of Europe!” I was the last person you’d expect to visit such a place: I liked my feet firmly on the ground, usually covered in sensible shoes. But I had the opportunity in Interlaken to go canyon jumping – not unlike bungee jumping – and had a choice. To jump, or not to jump? Rather than give myself an out, I paid my 150 Swiss francs, climbed the mountain, strapped on my harness and free-fell 90 meters.

The point? If there’s a new experience that you could have in life – as simple as trying a new food, or as big as moving to a new city – and you know you might back out, push yourself. Push yourself until there’s no turning back, and you’ll be surprised by how much you grow.

Learn to say “thank you” to everyone that makes your life as easy as it is. I think it’s safe to say that students here are extraordinarily blessed to find themselves on a campus where hot food is waiting for them daily, where their housing is guaranteed and where their toilets are cleaned by someone else. This isn’t magic, nor is it Notre Dame’s legions of house elves that live in the South Dining Hall basement. The men and women who really make this University run are as far from the spotlight as you can get, and most deserving of your thanks. Go out of your way and give it.

Try the spicy sea nuggets once. Or whatever culinary equivalent you encounter that might scare you half to death.

The stuff of the world today is translation: how we interact, how we communicate and how we meet each other at the places where we are. Equip yourself with your metaphorical phrase book, and go!

Say what you feel, and say what you mean.

Smell the flowers. Even the ugly ones – they might smell the best.

Take pictures. You don’t always have to post them on Facebook, or tag yourself every time, but take them. It’s surprising how much you forget as time goes by.

Call your parents – but not too often. They want to see you grow up, too.

Keep wearing your goofy-looking pajama pants well after graduation.

Lastly, it’s okay to use the word “graduation.” Even if I called it “the g-word” until maybe three weeks ago.

Analise Lipari is going to graduate, no matter what. As a soon-to-be member of the ACE program, this New Hampshire girl will be teaching Language Arts in Dallas, Texas come August. As senior week goes on, you’ll hear her using her Mufasa voice more and more often. Remember who you are, Simba. Remember who you are.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.