It takes a long time to become young.
~ Pablo Picasso
Leonard Cohen, age 79, is a Canadian award-winning singer-songwriter, musician, poet, and novelist. According to the recent biography I’m Your Man by Sylvie Simmons, Cohen has grown and changed across his life, especially in the last decade.
Like those of Bob Dylan, Cohen’s songs have been performed by many artists. He is more poet, less a musical performer. His poetry explores religion, isolation, sexuality, and interpersonal relationships. He has long been a spiritual seeker — Jewish in upbringing and community, an ordained Buddhist priest, exploring Christian images and issues.
Due to embezzlement of his retirement funds by his former manager, Cohen was forced to resume performing over the last few years. His return began with a series of tribute concerts. He continues to perform with colleagues who are honoured to sing his songs with him. His biographer underlines his new comfort and skill in performance, to his greatest acclaim worldwide. She also highlights how he is finally achieving peace from frequent depressions in his later years.
His 2012 CD of new songs Old Ideas reached near the top of the charts in Europe and North America – receiving universally positive reviews. In an interview, Cohen said “They’re old ideas in the sense that they’re old unresolved ideas, old moral questions. They’re ideas that have been rattling around in the mind of the culture for a long time.” This is a late life album, which has been described in the New York Times as “musing on memories and final reckonings, but it also has a gleam in its eye.”
Without my burden
Behind the curtain
Without this costume
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show.
You go your way/I’ll go your way too
I have tried in my way to be free.
Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.
If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem.
BOOK REVIEW by Donna Paige
AGING AS SPIRITUAL PRACTICE:
A CONTEMPLATIVE GUIDE TO GROWING OLDER AND WISER
Lewis Richmond; New York, NY: Gotham Books, 2012
Lewis Richmond, a Zen Buddhist priest, writes for an ecumenical audience in this book by focusing on things that matter universally to everyone. His understanding of this came from his own direct experience on two occasions with serious illness and near-death. He has written this book as an investigation of what it means to enjoy your old age. FOR FULL REVIEW >>> Richmond- Aging as Spiritual Practice