I know many of you don’t have the same love of Bruce Springsteen that I do; however, this is about more than just Bruce. But it was a Bruce moment that got me thinking about the topic of “just one chance.”
It all started two weeks before the release of Bruce’s anxiously awaited next album, High Hopes. I had found out that it was available to listen to online in advance, so the first chance I got—a Monday morning—I started playing it. I listened with one ear while getting the kids off to school, making a call or two, answering several emails, and before I knew it, I was late for work and had to rush off. But being one of those people who likes to listen to a whole album about five times through before really being able to fully digest it, I was looking forward to listening to High Hopes again after work.
The entire way home that evening, I was eagerly imagining playing the album again while making dinner and hanging out with my kids. But when I finally arrived and tried to play it, it wouldn’t work! I heard from one of my best Bruce-loving buddies that he was having the same trouble—the songs wouldn’t play. Was this one of those one-time-only situations? Would I have to wait a WHOLE TWO WEEKS to listen to it again? I went to bed that night vaguely disappointed.
The next morning on my way to work, I was thinking about the situation again and thought, if I’d known that it was my only chance to listen to the album, I wouldn’t have wasted the moment doing other things. I would have focused and savored each song. Then it hit me: How many things do we do in our lives thinking we’ll have another chance to do it better or get it right next time? I could think of a hundred examples in quick succession: raising kids, being present with others, relationships, work, adventures—times I take for granted that there will be second chances or additional opportunities.
But what if you knew you only had one chance? Things might be different, right? We’d pay attention more. We’d feel a deep appreciation of the moment. We might say those things we’ve always wanted to say. We might make bigger changes more quickly—after all, if you only had one chance, you might as well go all the way and do it right the first time….
Or would you? It’s worth pondering.
The happy Springsteen ending is that the next night, I was able to play the whole album again. And my girls and I sat together on the couch and listened to the whole thing, beginning to end. As if we all knew we only had one chance. And it was good.
Thankfully, most of the time we do have more than one chance. But sometimes we don’t. And either way, it’s good to act as if you only do have one chance—because after all, you never know.
Meanwhile, I’m on my fourth listen of the new album (which releases on January 14, 2014—tomorrow!). And I’m thankful I have had more than one chance to listen, since each time I listen I go deeper, hear more, and understand more intensely how it all fits together. And it’s a beautiful thing. The utter ecstasy of Bruce and Tom Morello’s guitar on “Ghost of Tom Joad” is what it’s all about—a musical orgasm of passion for doing the right thing for the world. Hearing it live twice in Australia wasn’t enough. Because sometimes even though we might only have one chance, it’s not enough.
Now Tom said “Mom, wherever there’s a cop beatin’ a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there’s a fight against the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me mom I’ll be there
Wherever there’s somebody fightin’ for a place to stand
Or a decent job or a helpin’ hand
Wherever somebody’s strugglin’ to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you’ll see me.”—Bruce Springsteen
What if you knew you only had one chance?