The whole point of living, as far as Chuck Stone was concerned, was to keep moving. Don't stop for too long to gaze at your surroundings. Don't think too much - or at least don't overthink things to the point where you lose sight of the horizon. And as for looking back - well, only if you absolutely needed to do so to keep going.
Talk amongst yourselves all you want about Chuck Stone's accomplishments - and they were considerable. Talk about his columns, their often-rococo rhetorical flourishes, his frequent intersections with history and those who made it. He was, in print and in person, a man of flamboyant style, one of the very first African-American journalists to have achieved any distinctive style.
But style alone wasn't an end for him, nor were the words, ALthough he cared deeply about their proper deployment, no matter how many syllables they had. Writing was a tool; whenever necessary a weapon to be aimed and fired to produce the desired effect, whether it was to wake people up or make them laugh, to illuminate what was deeply hidden or unjustly neglected.
The moment, the timing and, above all, the purpose were all that mattered. Then it was time to keep moving. Jo Jones, the drummer for all those Count Basie bands Chuck Stone loved, would have understood the Chuck Stone way of being: Drive the world forward, keep perfect time and don't let up unless it's to change direction - and then drive harder.
Chuck wasn't, by nature, a contemplative man. But he was observant. As with all great newspapermen and women, he shared with a wide-angle camera lens the ability to take in as complete a field of vision (or an assessment of a situation) with one quick snap and reproduce what he saw with all the visible details, even those you couldn't easily see.
Nothing mattered more to Chuck than putting his quicksilver vision to direct use, sometimes to praise, just as often to condemn, always to make history pick up the pace - and move along as quickly as he could.
Just because he had to stop doesn't mean the rest of us should.
Gene Seymour, a former film and jazz critic for Newsday, was a staff writer at the Daily News from 1981 to 1989. He lives in Washington, D.C.