Duff: To the Class of 2012

Don't ever forget to breathe, laugh, and kiss the one you love.

It is that time of the year when colleges, high schools, and every other educational institution are graduating students. Men and women and boys and girls are getting their move on to a higher level of education or "graduating" to life outside academics.

If you are around my age, you will appreciate it when I say: I wish I knew then what I know now. We thought we knew it all way back when. We only knew a little bit.

I'm not suggesting that teenagers and young adults are not yet smart. But most haven't received the informational, hard-fought lessons that you learn the hard way out there in the wondrous war that we call life.

A trick I have learned along the way is to have a hero to aspire to. It can be as simple as wanting to be like Clint Eastwood's character in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly or aspiring be like Oprah. There can be many more personal variables—like an uncle or aunt, a parent, a yoga instructor, or Bruce fucking Lee. Having a hero can get you through some of those tough-as-hell moments. You can ask yourself: "What would Clint do right now?" when in need of some steely nerve.

Breathing is important too. So is laughing. Laugh your ass off. That is important.

And do stuff. You probably want to ask yourself if you are doing today the things you'd want to do on the last day of your life. What a full life that could be if you did indeed live every day like it was your last.

One last thing: Kiss that person you love, and shake hands with that person you aren't so in love with.

Welcome to summer, you youths, and welcome to the rest of your life. It is what you make of it . . . I think. So far, at least.


Duff McKagan is the founding bassist of Guns N' Roses and the leader of Seattle's Loaded.

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