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“The best music is essentially there to provide you something to face the world with.”
- Bruce Springsteen -

Thursday, October 15, 2009

#53 Don’t Look Back by Bruce Springsteen

The idea of not looking back makes me think of the story of Lot’s wife. Looking back at what they were leaving behind was forbidden. Their hearts were supposed to be where they were going not longing for the wicked world they were running away from.

When you’re born with the “deck stacked” against you, escape, transcendence, whatever you want to call it, is next to impossible. It takes a lot more than just desire and determination to escape an all consuming world. Chance, luck, someone to help you along the way – any one of these things can help take someone out of one reality and place them in another.

Unlike Lot’s wife, the temptation is to not look back. The temptation is to ride the freedom train as far away as possible and prove to the rest of the world that you can make it too. You are going to “even the score”. But looking back may not be such a bad idea.

Of course, you do not look back in longing for the difficult life you have lived. But you can look back, back at those left behind, back at where you came from and remember the pain and the agony of just trying to survive, whatever your circumstances may have been. Looking back in this way will allow you to maintain a flow of empathy and suspend judgment for your fellow human beings who cannot escape as you have done.

It will allow you to return to a place where humanity is at its most fragile and desperate, and now that it no longer has its grip on you, allow you to fight for others with understanding and compassion. You can take what you’ve been given and loosen the chains for someone else.

There’s an expression: If you want to move forward, you’ve got to go back. This is usually used to express the need for looking into our personal histories to find what is blocking us from growing in our present life. It can also mean that if you want to live a meaningful existence, if you want to “make a difference”, if you want to transcend your own needs and desires, you need to look back. You need to look back at those left behind and lend them your strength and courage. Lend them your voice. And some, if only a few, can ride along aside you down those “tracks through the blazing rain”.

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