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"There should be no worship of the instruments. I mean Edge only takes his guitar out on formal occasions. He hardly sleeps with it, or polishes it."

-- Bono

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Like a Song: Last Night On Earth

@U2, January 18, 2011
By: Jennifer Tomooka

 

Like A Song

[Ed. note: This is the 52nd in a series of personal essays by the @U2 staff about songs and/or albums that have had great meaning or impact in our lives.]

Happy New Year! One of my resolutions for this year is to focus the energy of the lessons I've learned over the past few years into something positive. Like many music fans, I've been pulling together a playlist to encourage me in this venture. As I was going through the U2 catalog, one song in particular stood out for me: Pop's "Last Night on Earth." I know, you might be thinking, why not pick "Walk On" or "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" or "Breathe"? All good choices, but "Last Night on Earth" is special for me because in many ways, it mirrors the path that I've been walking for the last few years.

She feels the ground is giving way
But she thinks we're better off that way
The more you take the less you feel
The less you know the more you believe
The more you have, the more it takes today

Based on the chaos that I've lived through, I've gotten used to the ground moving about underneath me (it's not just because I grew up in Southern California and am used to earthquakes). It's unsettling, to say the least, but I also think that it's brought out and encouraged the best parts of me. I've stepped outside my box so many times, I don't even know what that box looks like anymore. I've thrown myself into uncomfortable situations just to see how I would react to them and work out a solution for myself. I've tried to face my fears as best I could and not run from them. I didn't want to just believe that everything in my life was going to be OK, I wanted to KNOW that it would be.

She's not waiting on a savior to come
Her eyes are closing
She's at the bus stop with the News Of The World
And the Sun, sun, here it comes
She's not waiting for anyone

I've had moments in my life where I have waited on or wanted some kind of savior to swoop in and rescue me from a variety of situations. This could have been anyone from my boyfriend at the time, my boss, my close friends or my parents. Honestly, there were times when I didn't want the weight of responsibility to fall completely on my shoulders. I didn't think that I was strong enough or capable enough to go out and fearlessly walk the path that I imagined for myself. All that changed when my life was turned upside down and some of the strongest anchors in my life were suddenly removed.

So, I saved myself.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but I realized that I was the only one who could make my life happen for me. That's quite a step forward when I was used to a whole different support system. I was tired of waiting for the opportunities to present themselves to me, so I found other ways for them to manifest themselves in my life. I closed my eyes, took a giant leap and opened myself up to different possibilities that propelled me towards my goals, no matter how small they seemed to be. Once I did this, I was amazed at the prospects that were available to me. I just had to stop being so cautious.

The clock tells her that time is slipping
Slipping away, slip slide today
Minute hands and seconds sticking
Slipping away

For all of my confidence over where my life is and the direction it's moving in, there are moments when I feel a clock ticking. I feel it at work when I'm trying to hit deadlines and passing milestones I've set for myself (of course, they never happen fast enough). I feel it in my writing as I try to find the right flow and tempo for my words. I feel it when I lose patience with myself and wonder why it's taken me until now to go after what I want. Why wasn't I doing this a decade ago? I'm 36. Is it too late for me to be taking the first steps and starting on this journey now? Have I missed my window? Is there time for a family? Am I saving enough money for retirement? Can you tell I'm an equal-opportunity worrier?

You got to give it away
You got to give it away
You got to give it away
You got to give it away
You got to give it away
You got to give it away
She already knows it hurts
She's living like it's the last night on earth

While human, all my fears, doubts, what-ifs and second-guessing aren't very productive or healthy for me. They just allow me to stand in my own way and keep me stagnant. As Bono suggests, insists and even demands several times during the course of the song, I've got to give it away. I need to let it go. Hanging onto those negative thoughts just weighs me down and distracts me from what I'm meant to be doing with my life. Everything happened in my life the way it was supposed to and what really matters is that I learned valuable lessons, didn't settle and am continually moving forward, instead of backwards.

For me, living like it's the last night on earth isn't reckless abandon with an irresponsible edge (which is how I used to interpret the song). It's more like taking that best, brightest part of yourself and staying true to it, no matter what life throws at you, how quickly the ground moves beneath your feet, or how loudly that clock in your head is ticking. Keep going. Live like it's the last night on earth.

She's living like it's the last night on earth
The last night on earth

© @U2/Tomooka, 2011.



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