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My 2018 Resolution: Keep It Between the Lines


For as long as I can remember, I’ve navigated the crazy holiday season by keeping one thing in mind: January’s coming.

January means clean slates. I usually enjoy looking forward with renewed focus on measurable goals and new metrics for success. I have always slid into the new year with the proverbial pencil in hand, ready to attack the year and get back to business.

But not this year. The juxtaposition of what I was planning on the corporate whiteboard in my mind against what was actually going on in my life was striking.

My Aunt Jean was a force of nature. One time when we were growing up, some boys were lurking in the bushes, throwing rocks at the car she was driving to church with her two sons. Screeching the car to a halt, she hopped out in her dress and heels and chased them down. Upon catching them, there was no question in the young lads’ minds about what she thought of them and where they would spend eternity. She also made it to church on time.

Despite her seemingly supernatural strength, Jean Glover Johnson passed away in the final hours of 2017 after many days in the hospital – and amazingly courageous decisions made by my family members. It was my privilege to be there and to be with them all.

Driving home from her funeral, I naturally thought of Aunt Jean’s eulogy, and more broadly, those things that endure from our lives. I couldn’t help but think how the real measure of a person has very little to do with those parts of a life that can actually be measured. Rather, we are remembered much more for the way in which we live in kindness, generosity, and good character.

At that moment in the car, one of my Spotify “Top Songs of 2017” from singer-songwriter-philosopher-poet Sturgill Simpson’s album “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” came on. The album was written as a life manual for his young son, but what I heard was for me. And I’m pretty sure that when it comes to perspective for a new year, Aunt Jean would also have appreciated Sturgill’s plain-spoken advice from “Keep It Between the Lines”:

Don't turn mailboxes into baseballs
Don't get busted selling at seventeen
Most thoughts deserve two or three more

Motor oil is motor oil
Just keep the engine clean.

Keep your eyes on the prize
Everything will be fine
Long as you stay in school
Stay off the hard stuff
And keep between the lines

Don't burn two lanterns at the same time
Don’t ship out on the water to pay your rent

'Cause you live and you learn
Sometimes you get burned
When your get-out done got up
Walked out the door and went

Now do as I say
Don't do as I've done
It don't have to be
Like father like son

Don't let them try to upsell you
There's a reason they make chocolate and vanilla too

If there's any doubt, then there is no doubt
The gut don't never lie
And the only word you'll ever need to know in life is “why”

Keep your head out of the clouds
And remember to be kind
And just stay in school
Stay off the hard stuff
And keep between the lines

(Don’t sweat the small stuff, Don’t sweat the small stuff)

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Level 2 Legal Solutions CEO Joey SeeberJoey Seeber is CEO of Level 2 Legal Solutions, a Texas-based leading provider of eDiscovery and legal solutions, specializing in modern managed review, outsourcing, and consulting for law firms and in-house counsel.