Less of Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen black & white photo

“You know who said it best? Leonard Cohen. He meditated all those years at Mt. Baldy Zen Center, often for twelve hours at a time. In an interview, he said his storyline just wore itself out.”

“He got so bored with his dramatic storyline. And then he made the comment, ‘The less there was of me, the happier I got.'”

“That’s the answer to how to enjoy your life. It’s to show up and have a sense of curiosity about whatever might appear that day, including it all in your sense of appreciation of this precious human birth, which is so short. I don’t want to call it delight, although it can feel like that. It’s more curiosity. Some people say, I know what’s going to show up today—the same old thing. But it’s never really the same old thing. Even in Groundhog Day, every day was a different experience for Phil, until finally he learned that caring about people was the answer.”

‘This is actually a big point, because the less there is of you, the more you’re interested in and curious about other people. Who you live with and who you rub up against and who you share this world with is a very important part of enjoying your life.”


Making more from less

When an album gets remastered to mark its 20th Anniversary re-release, as was the case with Jennifer Warnes’ “Famous Blue Raincoat: The Songs of Leonard Cohen” in 2008, it means it meant something — it did to me.

When 2008 seems like a helluva long time ago, as it does today, February 6, 2019, it means you’re getting older.

Ah, the last time we saw you, you looked so much older
Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
You’d been to the station to meet every train
But she never turned up I mean Lili Marlene

— Jennifer Warnes, Famous Blue Raincoat

And when you’re old enough to remember the original, un-remastered version (which I am and can) it means, at least to me, that you’re getting older than old. I can remember friends turning thirty the year the original was released and swore I’d never do something as tempting of chronic disease, diapers-remastered and death.

Even though I’m a Canadian, which means I’m supposed to be genetically predisposed to liking Trailer Park Boys, Céline Dion, Red Green and Tim Hortons coffee, (don’t get me started!) I didn’t. I loved the grit of Cohen’s lyrics but not the gravel in his voice.

Even though Pema Chödrön isn’t a Canadian, she’s the director of Gampo Abbey in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. She regularly lectures about the Tibetan word, “shenpa” (getting hooked by triggers that trip you up into feeling “less than,” falling apart and getting lost) and, as you might expect, wrote a book called “When Things Fall Apart,” all of which are exactly what happen almost every time I’m faced with a blank page.

This, “Less of Leonard Cohen” page serves to remind me that there’s more than one way away from shenpa (although ultimately it boils down to sitting down and writing one word and then another and another).

If you struggle to write anything from a cover letter to a love letter, I believe you can get somewhere from here.


The first section of this post is an excerpt from this Lion’s Roar Interview with Pema Chödrön.

Category: Lost and Found