I had the privilege of seeing the late, great, B. B. King perform in concert on many occasions. He was a source of inspiration to me for many reasons, including his commitment to keeping the blues alive. One of my favorite songs of his, written by Will Jennings and Joe Sample, is “Better Not Look Down.” The song has wonderful lyrics, including a line I say quite often, “I’m pretty fast myself.” But the chorus is the subject of this post:
You better not look down, If you wanna keep on flying. Put the hammer down, Keep it full speed ahead. You better not look back Or you might just wind up crying. You can keep it moving, If you don’t look down!
This is good advice for all of us. Maintain focus, keep moving forward, don’t look back, and push through until we reach our goals. Many people I know live their lives in the past. They talk about their “glory days,” lived long ago, when life was simple and people were nice. Other people are focused on things that might happen in the future, such as what they would do with their lottery winnings. The mantra, “one day at a time” works for certain people, including, sadly, people with a terminal illness, however, a healthy life balance includes a focus on today, having learned lessons from yesterday’s experiences, while having a positive outlook for the future. I, as those who know me can affirm, move full speed ahead almost all the time. Unlike some people, I spend considerably less time talking about what I’ve done, the cool places I’ve been, and how I long for “the way things were” than moving ahead in a goal directed, purposeful, manner. Like B. B. King sang in the song that inspired this post, I keep it moving and I don’t look down. I apply this philosophy to everything I do, from working on the most complex litigation anyone can imagine to ensuring my household functions as it should, to playing my bass guitar. And I’m pretty fast myself!
As anyone who reads our posts knows, song lyrics are a part of our outlook on the world. When I read Melissa’s post, and comments of those who live their lives in the past, I immediately thought of “Living in the Past” (Jethro Tull) and Bruce Springsteen’s anthem “Glory Days.” But more so, I thought of the title of the post, and the B.B. King song Melissa quotes about “Better not look down.” Whether looking down, or into the past, the point Melissa makes is keep looking forward. Forward to new adventures, new days. However, in thinking about this, being mindful of how one got where they find themselves, now looking forward. There is a need to be kind in moving forward. A phrase that, with some variations, originated in the 1930s, cautions us to be nice to those you meet on the way up because you’ll meet the same people on the way down. A variation of this is attributed to comedian Jimmy Durante and says don’t “snub” those you meet. I think these admonitions provide a much better life outlook than those in the Genesis lyrics to “Paperlate” which, in contrast, says,
“There’s no need to be nice on the way up
‘Cause you’re not coming down”
Many people find themselves at crossroads in their lives and get stuck by the prospect of changes. Keeping forward momentum can be difficult, but it beats the results of backsliding into the past when that past is troublesome, or gone, for whatever reason. Keep it moving!