Leonard Cohen’s “Nothing in this human realm is meant to work…” Quote Draws 30,000+ Hits – Why That Matters (Maybe)

Since its May 16, 2017 publication, the post, “Nothing in this human realm is meant to work. So once you can deeply appreciate that…the mind of compassion grows if you understand that everybody’s up against it.” Leonard Cohen, has garnered more than 30,000 hits on this site alone (to put this in perspective, Cohencentric.com routinely draws 5,000-6,000 unique views over 24 hours, and the most popular post on a given day routinely accounts for a few hundred of those hits)  – as well as many, many more views on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

This is noteworthy for several reasons:

1. This post didn’t mark a special occasion. Hits have often increased by magnitudes of 10-20 when, for example, albums were issued, honors awarded, birthdays celebrated … .  This post was not tied to an extraordinary event. In fact, when previously posted Dec 16, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric, this quotation drew less than 100 views.

2. It’s not a short, simple post. The advice almost universally proffered to those posting on blogs, Facebook and other social media is “keep it short.” The admonition from Anatomy of a Perfect Facebook Post: Exactly What to Post to Get Better Results is representative: “A perfect Facebook post …  is brief—40 characters or fewer.”1  It turns out that Leonard uttered only a few pithy pronouncements – and this isn’t one of them. Viewers had to read more than 40 characters. More significantly, the thoughts expressed were neither simple or intuitive.

3. It’s not a visual post. The post centered not on a great photo, a musical performance, or even an interview video but on printed words, There is a photo that’s interesting but would hardly be a draw presented in isolation and there is a link to the interview video from which the quote was taken, but fewer than 10% of viewers also went to the video,

4. The hits were overwhelmingly generated by Facebook. On occasion, Cohencentric posts have benefited from links that appeared on fan sites for Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Chuck Berry, and others. And sometimes, the Google algorithm du jour have resulted in an influx of viewers. Heck, there have been Cohencentric links published in the New York Times, Mojo, Rolling Stone, and other notable publications. In this case, however, the referral source was Facebook. The stats app for Cohencentric lacks the sophistication to indicate which Facebook pages contributed but experience indicates that the Cohen fan pages alone don’t generate this volume of views. (The official Leonard Cohen Page does sometimes cause tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of views, but no link to this post appeared there.)

Why The Popularity Of This Quotation Is Important – Maybe

The significance is, in a sense, obvious: the message conveyed by Leonard’s quotation clearly registered with a large number of folks. That doesn’t mean, by the way, that everyone agreed with the concept. It does mean that it engaged a massive audience – without the benefit of a Leonard Cohen musical performance or a Leonard Cohen poem or anything more than a portion of a transcript of a 1997 interview held at Leonard’s cabin at the Mount Baldy Zen Center. It’s the unadorned notion that struck a chord. Now, that’s remarkable.


  1. Length is not the only issue article dealt with by this article; it’s just the bit that applies here. []

“Everybody leads a spiritual life…” Leonard Cohen

I think that everybody leads a spiritual life. I don’t know if it’s even worthwhile to designate it as that way Everybody is in touch with there own resources, with their own deep pools of divine activity, otherwise they wouldn’t be here on this plane – they’d evaporate. I mean everybody is living a so called religious life, everybody lives a so called spiritual life, everybody is in touch with these powers otherwise they wouldn’t be around. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


How The Heart Approaches What It Yearns – Interview With Leonard Cohen Presented By John McKenna. RTE Ireland, May 9 & 12, 1988. Originally posted Nov 15, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“My work is like ice cubes in a drink. It just changes the drink.” Leonard Cohen

I like the metaphor, and I’m not sure what it means, but it seems to be right, that I feel my work is like ice cubes in a drink. It just changes the drink. Even though the songs are dense and carefully worked out, it’s very difficult to say exactly what they mean or stand for. but like the taste of cold water, it’s refreshing.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen: Pondering His Past and ‘The Future’ by Scott Crawford (Intermission, Stanford Daily: April 8, 1993); Originally posted Oct 20, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“We’ll bathe together in those springs a thousand kisses deep” Unused lines written by Leonard Cohen for A Thousand Kisses Deep

I’ll find you though you climb
The very heights of failure peak,

I’ll lift you from the midst
Of your invincible defeat,

But hold me when the darkness sings
And when our faith is weak

We’ll bathe together in those springs
A thousand kisses deep

From At Lunch With Leonard Cohen; Philosophical Songwriter On A Wire by Jon Pareles. New York Times: October 11, 1995, Photo of Leonard Cohen by Roland Godefroy (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsOriginally posted Oct 18, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“One of the absolute qualifications for a writer is not knowing his arse from his elbow.” Leonard Cohen

One of the absolute qualifications for a writer is not knowing his arse from his elbow. I think that’s where it starts. With a lack of knowledge. The sense of not knowing what is happening and the need to organise experience on the page or in the song is one of the motivations of a writer.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Having Lunch With Leonard Cohen by Jon Wilde, Sabatoge Times. Dec 3, 2015 (the quote itself is taken from a 1988 interview). Originally posted Jan 29, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen invokes Yeats on aging: “‘A foolish passion in an old man,’ that’s not a bad calling…”

What Yeats said about ‘a foolish passion in an old man,’ that’s not a bad calling. To stay alive in the heart and the spine and the genitals, to be sensitive to these delicious movements, is not a bad way to go.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Melancholy Baby by John Walsh. The Independent Magazine: May 8, 1993

DrHGuy Note: Leonard Cohen’s Yeats reference appears to be to the final line of A Prayer For Old Age by William Butler Yeats:

God guard me from those thoughts men think
In the mind alone;
He that sings a lasting song
Thinks in a marrow-bone;

From all that makes a wise old man
That can be praised of all;
O what am I that I should not seem
For the song’s sake a fool?

I pray—for word is out
And prayer comes round again—
That I may seem, though I die old,
A foolish, passionate man.

Note: Originally posted Jan 2, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric