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Monday, January 30, 2017

Is your life burning well?

Holy Ash

Act the way you'd like to be and soon you'll be the way you act.”
Leonard Cohen

You may have noticed that Leonard Cohen has become Priest to me. Almost every day, I read a little of his no-nonsense philosophy. I haven't finished grieving his passing from this earth, and may never. Perhaps my favorite line from one of his songs/poems is, “There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in.” I don't much like the cracking, but I bask in the light.

One of his truisms is this: “When you stop thinking about yourself all the time, a certain repose overtakes you.” Much of the anxiety and depression we experience in these modern times is the result of having too much time to think about our lot in life. There was a day, and not that long ago, when the sheer load of physical labor kept one's hands and mind too busy to navel-gaze, self-compare, and come up lacking. Leisure has allowed us to cogitate too much. I find that when my hands are busy, when I am actively working on a task, or a creative project, my mind floats free of negativity. It's counter-intuitive, but for some of us labor is rest.

Cohen did not think of himself as a poet. He believed such designations were for other people to decide. Instead, he simply wrote to give words to his feelings. “Music,” he said, “is the emotional life of most people.” Sometimes, and especially if we've been trained to shut off our feelings, music allows us access to them, and they bubble up to the surface. It isn't necessary to analyze them; when we do, we move away from feeling, and into a different part of the brain that is for thinking. It is only necessary to feel authentically—to feel where the music takes you, and don't try to figure out why. That is why we can listen to a song like “Suzanne” and feel all the nostalgia and passion, but not really understand what the words are about. Doesn't matter—they lead us to our feelings, which do matter.

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” (Cohen) I hope your life is burning well. Spread a little ash today.

                                                       In the Spirit,


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