Somewhere back in time, the summer I graduated from high school, a band called Boston released their second album.
This had to be a scary thing for them. They had struck it magically rich with their first one and this new album was destined to be second-best. It just works that way in music sometimes.
But, despite not really breaking new ground with their unique sound like they had with their debut, in some ways this album was superior. The title track of the album started off with this:
Don’t look back, oh a new day is breakin’
It’s been too long since I felt this way
I don’t mind ooh where I get taken
The road is callin’, today is the day
Lyrically, there was more than Mary Anne walking away and smokin’. There was a hope for change, a realization of reality and still a little bit of party mentality.
It would have been good for me to let those lyrics sink into my head a little more but I was stuck listening to another song on the same album, “A Man I’ll Never Be”.
You look up at me
And somewhere in your mind you see
A man I’ll never be.
I did a lot of looking back on my short life. At eighteen years old, I was not eighteen and liking it. I was conflicted, insufficient and beginning to see hopelessness for the very first time.
I stepped out into life on my own and learned to fake a smile, live a lie and pretend that I was all I needed.
But living life looking back, questioning everything, wondering who this invisible monster breathing down my neck was (I later learned his name was Depression), allowed me to walk into a lot of walls, miss a lot of open doors and step off into some pretty deep crevasses.
Philippians 3:13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
You may say, “Mike, you write about the past all the time. You are looking back a LOT.”
Well, these are my daily times when I lay out what is ahead. I do not want to be doomed to repeating what I have done in the past and expect different results. No, the past is merely a guide or a warning of what to avoid in my future, not the road to what lies ahead.
Today, I can look back in the context of knowing I am no longer there. I am not the same numb-skull that decided at the age of eighteen he was destined to fail. After a half-century of that nonsense I can finally see that what I am destined for is a heavenly prize and I can hear Jesus calling me down the home stretch.
A few years ago, I was like the fat guy that took up jogging. His first time out he made it from his mailbox to the next. But he pressed on. Learning, conditioning, eater better, training and found himself running a marathon.
I was fat, lazy Christian, impersonating a potato on the couch. Then one day I heard the call to run, mostly because I stopped listening to the ruckus created by my past, my guilt, my shame, my immense frustration with lost opportunity and a mess large enough to eat me alive.
Now, I am not only running ahead, the past lies back there in a heap unable to reach out and slow me down. The only thing it does now is fuel my desire to never return to being that man and I am becoming that man I’ll never be.