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What Baz Luhrmann Taught Me About Life

By David Foster 2 months ago
Baz Luhrmann

Ever felt like a lost soul not knowing where to turn?

That’s how I felt in 1998. So, I ran away to Australia.

And that’s when Baz Lurhmann entered my life.

He created an incredible song from a famous essay—written in 1997 by Mary Schmich, a columnist with the Chicago Tribune. I’m going to share with you the amazing insights he taught me about how to love life—not just live it.

WHY AUSTRALIA?

I was 18 years old and had been through a difficult breakup—all breakups are difficult when you’re a sensitive teenager. I’d dropped out of university and was working as a junior draftsman. I was existing for the weekends—sport, laughs with friends, alcohol—to help numb the boredom of my existence.

I was lost.

But, I had a dream to become a professional sportsman.

The problem was I suffered from an inherent lack of belief and never performed well at several professional trials—I found them very intimidating—my inner self-talk sabotaged me to a degree where I felt worthless and doubted myself. I told myself I wasn’t good enough.

I got creative and made an opportunity to escape from my hometown. I faxed a covering letter with newspaper clippings of my successes to a club in Australia. Amazingly, they agreed to take me on as their overseas player. My big break.

I fell flat on my face. The level of cricket they played was incredible, along with their mindset. I learnt a huge amount and realised I was never going to go pro. My ship of ‘going pro’ had sailed without me—giving me the freedom to explore other things.

I’d failed in achieving my dream of being a professional cricketer but discovered gold.

Baz Luhrmann, and his song—Sunscreen.

I loved the style, tone, content and powerful messages.

Twenty years on I’m 40 this year so I’m paying homage to Baz by sharing his life lessons with my side commentary.

THE LYRICS {commentary in brackets}

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 1997, wear sunscreen

If I could offer you 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

{100% correct.}

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Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth, oh, never mind

You will never understand the power

And the beauty of your youth until they’ve faded

But trust me, in twenty years

You will look back at photos of yourself

And recall in a way you can’t grasp now

How much possibility lay before you

And how fabulous you really looked

You are not as fat as you imagine

{I spent far too much time worrying about how I look—such a waste of time. YOU ARE NOT AS FAT AS YOU IMAGINE.}

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Don’t worry about the future or worry that know that worrying

Is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation

By chewing bubble gum

The real troubles in your life are apt to be things

That never crossed your worried mind

The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday

{Why worry about the future of things that may happen? What purpose does it actually serve? I remember having several miscarriages with my wife—all of them blindsided us, coming out of nowhere to create pain words can’t describe. Live for the moment, be present and take advantage of the wonderful things in your life that you have. Life is short so enjoy the beauty of it—starting today.}

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Do one thing every day that scares you, sing

Don’t be reckless with other peoples’ hearts

Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours, floss

Don’t waste your time on jealousy

{Do one thing every day that scares you. Your life will expand depending on a number of fears you’re willing to face head-on. Whether it be difficult conversations with loved ones or overcoming public speaking—facing into fears will give you energy and power.}

{Sing—I LOVE singing. It fills me with energy!}

{I’ve been reckless with other peoples’ hearts and I feel very remorseful about this. Aim to not do it.}

{I’ve learnt to remove people from my life who have been reckless with mine, or make me feel low energy—and that’s empowering.}

{Floss—worth doing if you want teeth.}

{I’ve been incredibly jealous at times in my life. Waste of time. Does being jealous of someone help you have a better life? Or, take energy away from creating a better life? Jealousy tells you what you ‘think’ your secret desires are.}

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Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind

The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself

{Don’t compare how people look on the outside with how you feel on the inside. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. The only person worth competing with is yourself. How committed are you to becoming a better person? To love more, caring more, leading by example, being a better friend, partner and parent?}

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Remember compliments you receive, forget the insults

If you succeed in doing this, tell me how

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements, stretch

{If you’re a sensitive soul you probably get impacted by insults and find it hard to receive compliments. And, that’s ok. Insults often come from people who have a lot going on inside them that you know nothing about. It’s not about you—let it go. As for compliments … when receiving slow down and say ‘thank you’.}

{Love letters—I once threw away a stack of love letters when I was a teenager to prove my devotion to an old girlfriend. I regret it.}

{Definitely throw away bank statements—after you’ve had a review each month to see exactly where your money went … and yes, you really did spend that much on ‘entertainment’.}

{And, stretch—every day. Look after your body, and it will look after you.}

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Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what 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

Get plenty of calcium

Be kind to knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone

{I spent many years berating myself for not knowing where I’m going. I’ve reinvented myself several times, and that’s ok. Go easy on yourself, take it day by day and follow your intuition … everything will be ok. Giving yourself permission to NOT know where you’re going is very freeing and creates space for things to emerge that REALLY move you. If you’re emotionally connected to goals or a powerful mission, taking action becomes easier. If you’re not taking action it’s a sign your goals are not right for you. Create some new ones.}

{Calcium—good for bones, teeth, hair—which I’m sure you’d like to retain.}

{Knees … I’ve had knee ops on both of mine and I miss the days when I could spring around on concrete playgrounds like a kangaroo (well, okay, an arthritic wallaby). Be kind to them and they’ll be kind to you.}

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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 too much

Or berate yourself either

Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s

{Enough said. Your choices are half chance. Be kind, caring, and show love to others—it will come back to you. And, most importantly, be kind to yourself. It does absolutely no good to beat yourself up for mistakes—we all make them (daily). Be humble when things go well, enjoy them, but don’t use them as a way to make yourself feel bigger than others—your choices are half chance, and so are everybody else’s. If you start taking yourself too seriously, remember, as Stephen Hawking once said: “We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star.”}

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Enjoy your body, use it every way you can

Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it

It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own, dance

Even if you have nowhere to do it but your own living room

Read the directions even if you don’t follow them

Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly

{If you don’t look after and enjoy your body it will be broken before you know it. I spent years with a chronic back condition in my 30’s—two slipped discs and cracked vertebrate. It got so bad I couldn’t even pick my newborn son up without being in agony, it impacted every area of my life. I was so depressed because of the constant pain and my inability to move like I used to. It happened because I didn’t take care of my body. Fortunately, I avoided surgery after finding a brilliant sports therapist and personal trainer—both called Alex—and they changed my life (I’m forever indebted to you Alex Brooks and Alex Sullivan).}

{Now … I dance … a lot … whenever I can! At home, we pump the music up and go for it! At parties, events—whenever the mood takes me I go for it—it makes me feel alive!}

{You don’t have to follow them … but reading directions (like this blog) may give you a life-changing insight.}

{Beauty magazines—when was the last time you read one that made you feel great about yourself? Don’t compare how you feel on the inside with how others look on the outside (especially when they’re photoshopped).}

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Brother and sister together will make it through

Someday a spirit will take you and guide you there

I know you’ve been hurting, but I’ve been waiting to be there for you

And I’ll be there just helping you out, whenever I can

{For me, this talks to your Higher Self, Purpose, Spirit, God, Buddha, Allah, Self Belief—whatever faith you have. I imagine at some stage in your life you’ve asked for help with a tough situation you’re going through. When you talk and put things out into the world you’ll be amazed at who’s listening.}

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Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good

Be nice to your siblings, they are your best link to your past

And the people most likely to stick with you in the future

Understand that friends come and go

But a precious few, who should hold on

{Relationships with people who brought us up in the world are complex. Seeing your parents as human beings who did the best they could and really getting to know them can be an enlightening experience. They are imperfect humans, just like you and me. Get to know them as people—not just parents.}

{I’m lucky enough to have a brother and a sister. Although there have been times over the years when we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye I know for a fact that if either of them left this world I’d be heartbroken. Build bridges with your siblings and parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone (like everyone else, they’re fighting a battle inside that you have no idea about).}

{When I was a little boy I remember my Grandad saying to me through a cloud of cigarette smoke; “Boy, if you end your life with five true friends who you can count on no matter what, you’ve done well.” At the time I had loads of ‘mates’ and didn’t agree. He was right, just like Baz. Friends come and go and there are precious few you should hold on to.}

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Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle

For as the older you get, the more you need the people

You knew when you were young

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard

Live in northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft

{I recently went to a family wedding in my hometown. I was reticent as I’d grown apart from the people I know when I was young. Turns out there was something beautiful about how everyone connected with me to reminisce about old times, catch up with what’s going on today and express love to one another. The older I get, the more I value connecting with the people I knew when I was young—you never know when they’ll be gone.}

{I have no frame of reference for the last part of this verse—I’d welcome any insights from readers to help expand on the New York vs. California statement. Is it true?}

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Travel, accept certain inalienable truths

Prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old

And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young

Prices were reasonable, politicians were noble

And children respected their elders

{Travel broadens the mind. I’ve met some incredible people throughout the world. Experiencing different cultures has helped open my horizons in so many ways.}

{Prices will rise … Politicians will philander (and ‘not’ have sexual relations) … and I am getting older … you too, right?}

{Have you ever found yourself recalling how things were different when you were younger ..?}

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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’ll never know when either one will run out

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re forty

It will look eighty-five

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply i

{There are elders who deserve no respect based on their actions. Respect should be something that is not linked to the amount of time you’ve been on this planet. Sorry, Baz.}

{When I’ve been on my knees I’ve had incredible support from some members of my family. And, there is also a time in your life when you have to grow up and support yourself. Spot on, Baz.}

{History shows us that a lot of people have become wealthy only to discover their spouses ran away … sad, but true.}

{Be careful with your hair … I had several different hair colours when I was younger—it doesn’t do much for your hair. Thank God I have a brilliant Turkish barber who has worked magic to cover up former misgivings.}

{There are some amazingly gifted people out there with big hearts who genuinely have your best interests at heart. There are also others who only care about bolstering their bank balance with your cash. Jim Rohn once said; “There are only about nine or ten really bad people out there … and … they move around a lot … so be careful!”}

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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 for more than it’s worth

But trust me on the sunscreen

{This whole blog is an example of this. Just wear sunscreen.}

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Brother and sister together will make it through, oh yeah

Someday a spirit will take you and guide you there

I know you’ve been hurting, but I’ve been waiting to be there for you

And I’ll be there just helping you out, whenever I can

Everybody’s free, oh yeah, everybody’s free, oh yeah, oh, to feel good

{As someone once told me; “David, you’re here for a good time, not a long time—have some fun.”}

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Dance, smile, love, laugh and make the most of each day—you never know when something is going to come into your world on a Tuesday afternoon and blindside you.

Thank you, Baz. I love you.

And remember, I’m your sunscreen 🙂

With love. David.

Ps. If you’ve read this far you deserve a medal. I don’t have one for you, but you can enjoy the original music video if you click this link

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