There are little mantras we give ourselves in this life. For me, it has long been the above bit. Because I am human and I have struggled more than one too many times in my life with the imperfection that implies. Because uncertainty is inherent in any pursuit. Because worries for my own small ego have often given resistance to aspirations to do greater good. Or even lesser, more selfish good.
There are things we can count on in life. Uncertainty, for one. Loss, for another. Change always. And for all the cracks, it is inevitable that light will fill in the spaces.
As a species, we have a great fondness for a diametrical approach to things. It’s an attempt to forge order on the chaos, I suppose. For better or worse.
In the twenty years I have loved my husband, I have seen him cry twice. The first time was in awe and admiration the night Barack Obama was first elected. My husband is a Libertarian, so it was not necessarily a political victory for him, but it was a human victory. A moment in history we were blessed to see.
The second time was last night when we learned Leonard Cohen had died.
Tears are a strange thing, especially for men; they contain entire multitudes and microcosms. They are chemically composed of one thousand unnameable, intangible things. A distillation of all our loves and fears, triumphs, losses.
We do not honor them enough.
The first Leonard Cohen song I ever heard was “Everybody Knows” on the Pump Up The Volume soundtrack. I was probably 15. Man, I loved that movie. I was young and secure enough to see my privileges as a suburban teenager as stifling injustices. I was waiting for the world to begin. I even had the black and white striped tights like Samantha Mathis to pair with my Doc Martins in decidedly fashionably unfashionable design.
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Leonard Cohen had the gift of writing his own Requiem. As hard as that is, it’s impressively profound. In You Want it Darker, he intoned
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame
Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the help that never came
You want it darker
I’m ready, my lord