Look Back; Wisdom Might Be Gaining on You

“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.” ~ Satchel Paige


They are potent. They are powerful. They are those logical and cohesive arrangements of letters that convey all of life in a nutshell; whether happiness or sadness, whether motivation or demotivation, whether inspiration or cynicism, whether optimism or pessimism – string together a set of words, and you would have conveyed what you want to express. I’ve never come across any other tool of communication that possesses such power, and therefore, it is necessary to review the words one speaks, or reads, or hears, so that only that which is pertinent and meaningful is distilled into your being.

When I came across iconic American baseball player Satchel Paige’s quote “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you,” I instantly gave myself a nod in agreement. I thought to myself, “Yes, you must not turn back once you’ve embarked on an onward journey, else your pace of progress may decelerate.” Isn’t the motivational catchphrase “Let go, and don’t look back.” nearly everyone resorts to when trying to recover from a setback?

Whether it’s a rejected relationship, a failed business venture, or an unsuccessful examination, the advice is to gather yourself, and simply move ahead, because looking back will allow the painful memories of the past to cloud your vision for the future. There is merit to this philosophy, but the converse of this philosophy also holds equal value – looking back on your way onward is a critical function to develop as a human being. Unless you look back, you will not have a view of how far you have come, and unless you know how far you have come, you will not know how much further you have to go.


There is a lot to learn by looking back… It is one of the best means to learn & move ahead. Pic. courtesy: Amanda Mabel


It is great to get up, dust off and march ahead with gusto after a fall. In not looking back, you will evade the negativities and failures that befell you. Conversely, you may have missed out on something important in not looking back… You must look back to gather that which you may have missed out on; often, realisation is an opportunity that only looking back can afford you.

Looking back on your way onward is a critical function to develop as a human being

All of us are driving on the highway of life, and we need those mirrors – the rear view ones – to keep an eye on what’s happening behind. Just imagine driving without rear view mirrors; it can never be an easy drive. Similarly, even the most skilled sailor, when out on an expedition to discover new horizons, needs to take stock of how far he is from the shore so that he knows in which direction he must head.

We need to discard our notions of resisting failure and embrace it as a bedfellow of growth. There has to be a mechanism in our lives that lets us pause, look back, and realise how far we have come, and how it is we have covered that distance. Nobody has achieved much without reflecting on the past. While the present is the pivot that dictates our future, let’s not forget the past was also the present once upon a time. Hence, the past, too, deserves a dekko every once in a while. So, the next time, do look back if you have to; you may lose some sense of peace in the process, but you will surely gain a lot of wisdom in return.


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