Leonard Cohen, the Snowman of Frozen Hearts

I speak five languages fluently and other two less than fluent, but somewhere in the vicinity of intermediate. Nevertheless, I’ve always failed brilliantly when it came to listening to what my own inner voice had to tell me, as if we were talking different languages, worlds apart from one another. Whenever the mind tried to use facts and clear arguments to emphasize the ,,oughta”s, ,,should haves” or ,,never”s that were ,,the right thing to do”, the heart would simply go its own way, following an imperfect and troublesome mechanism: ,,feelings”, ,,emotions”, ,,butterflies”. No wonder I always shamefully considered myself an illiterate in questions of the heart. Until tonight, when I had a the sudden revelation that my inner communication gap might just be caused by me using the wrong words, or means of communication for that matter…. While I’m far from passing with flying colors when it comes to listening to my inner voice, there is a person who does it effortlessly. His name is Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen speaks the language of my heart and he’s effortlessly fluent in it. He can speak of myself far better than I can and, which is more, he can explain myself to me. In the three hours of his concert at the Chicago Theater, he spoke about each and every one of the people present. He took our inner and most-intricate feelings, molded them together and threw them back at us, at an infinitely higher speed. As I listened to him, I felt like laughing, crying, being exhilaratingly happy and incredibly hopeless at the same time…all the emotional states that life makes one travel through, condensed in three amazingly emotional hours.

,,I was here, on this stage, 15 years ago. A 65 year-old-kid, with a dream”, laughed, in-between songs, the brilliantly self-deprecating Cohen. ,,In the meantime, I’ve been on Prozac”, he continues, making the crowd go wild with applauses and cheers. Was he expecting that reaction, was he testing us? He speaks fluently the language of our hearts, but I’m pretty sure we’re ignorants at speaking his own. ,,You said you like handsome men/But with me, you’ll make an exception”, he sings, in his grave and deep voice…making us want to laugh and weep in one single breath.

Cohen speaks about the loneliness that we’ve all felt at some point in life. A loneliness that we take to work every day, bring home in the evening and even walk hand- in-hand with at the movies, from time to time. A loneliness that has nothing to do with the number of people inhabiting our house, nor with the lack of friends to supportively put their hands on our shoulders. ,,But I’m always alone/And my heart is like ice/And it’s crowded and cold/In my secret life”. When he recites, people hold their breath, taking every word in, sheltering it in a distant corner of the heart, somewhere to be kept for later and treasured for years to come:

,,I´m just another snowman
Standing in the rain and sleet,
Who loved you with his frozen love
His second-hand physique –
With all he is, and all he was
A thousand kisses deep”

He sang over 20 songs, always taking his signature-hat off when one of his band members did a solo (and what amazing, ground-breaking solos did they do!) . There was an intrinsic humbleness in his act of leaving his head bare in front of his band, a humbleness which went way beyond the mechanics of the gesture, it went straight to the heart.

After coming back over five times, in standing ovations, he said goodbye, and, just like the act of taking his hat off (which he also did), he did something truly heartfelt that went to that place in people’s hearts where words prove scarce. He wished all the members of the audience a great deal of happiness with their loved ones. After pausing, he added, to the inhabitants of secret lives where ,,it’s crowded and cold”: ,,but if that isn’t your lot in life, may my blessings reach you in your solitude”

I left the venue feeling peaceful and serene. The kind of serenity that you have after a heartfelt talk with the significant other and after getting a weight off your chest. A peacefulness that usually comes when things that had to be said and felt are finally said and felt. Walking through the streets of Chicago, dragging along my illiteracy in matters of the heart, I can only humbly agree with Leonard Cohen: ,,Ring the bell that still can ring/Forget your perfect offering/There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in”.

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