This song came on the radio the other day as I was driving to work. I’d just dropped the children off at school and nursery and was going through the various to-do lists in my head. But I had to stop and listen.
It started life as an article by Mary Schmich in the Chicago Tribune in 1997, and was set to music and released as a single by film director Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge, Strictly Ballroom) in 1999.
It occurred to me that despite its obvious cheesiness, these are very sound notions to live by. None of its rocket science of course. It’s just that we all need someone, every now and again, to stop us in our tracks and remind us what’s important. Stop trying so hard. Stop focussing on the wrong things. Just slow down a bit.
I like these lines in particular:
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 4pm on some idle Tuesday.
I was in a supermarket with the kids a couple of years ago. I suppose I must have been looking fairly harassed because a lovely old lady stopped me to give me some advice. Normally I’d find that quite irritating: being given advice I hadn’t asked for by a complete stranger. But this lady seemed to know exactly where I was.
She told me that I was still a very young woman – I remember laughing at this as I was feeling really rather old and jaded that particular day – and that it wouldn’t be long before I’d be looking back on days like today with such fondness. These times with your children are so important, she told me, and they will be grown up before you know it. Forget about all the material things. Don’t worry what the house looks likes. Just enjoy your time with your children and spend lots of time together doing things. Enjoy life before you get old like me.
I’ve never forgotten that advice. I don’t always live by it of course. Naturally I worry about material things. I worry about the fact that the house needs to redecorating and I really want a new car without scratches and dents. I spend far too much time working at ridiculous hours of the day. But every now and again, the words from that old lady, and now from this song, come back to me. And I stop. And play.