I feel tremendously relieved that I’m not worried about my happiness. There are things of course that make me happy, when I see my children well, when I see my daughters dogs – that are things that produce a sense of real happiness and gratitude in my life, a glass of wine… But what I am so happy about is that the background of distress and discomfort has evaporated. It’s not that I don’t feel distressed, it’s not that I don’t get drugs and I don’t feel sad about things that I see and know and what happens to people around me. It’s not that the emotions don’t come, it’s just that the background is clear – before it was all one piece, it was very dark. I could pierce the darkness, and I know people in much worse shape than I was, but I always told myself, what do you have to complain about, and that was a good question, because I didn’t have anything to complain about. But nevertheless, and you keep it to yourself except it comes out in your work a certain sorrow or anguish or suffering, something that is not right. And by the grace of God, that feeling has evaporated, so that I can feel real sorrow now, it’s not the sorrow that emerges from the sorrow, it’s not just the melancholy that emerges from the melancholy. So when things touch me in a sorrowful way I can speak about them, and more important, I can feel them. Before it was hard to differentiate any feeling, because it was – there was a kind of mist, a kind of distress over everything, but that lifted.
Leonard Looks Back On The Past (unedited interview for Norwegian Radio) by Kari Hesthamar, Los Angeles, 2005. Accessed at LeonardCohenFiles