“The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show” Leonard Cohen

Among Leonard Cohen’s most effective skills as a wordsmith is his capacity to transform a phrase from the vernacular into an elegant and appealing lyric that resonates with his audience. Today’s featured quotation is an example of this technique; it is not, however, a line from a Leonard Cohen poem, novel, or song. As far as I can determine, the first time “The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show,” was published was in a Feb 24, 2009 New York Times interview, Leonard Cohen Returns to the Road, for Reasons Both Practical and Spiritual by Larry Rohter.

In 2015 (when I first posted about this phenomenon), this remark became, according to my incredibly unscientific social media monitoring, the second most popular Leonard Cohen quotation on Twitter (the most popular continues to be “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in” from Anthem) as well as being well represented on other platforms. Clearly, these words articulate an idea that responds to our unspoken and often unrecognized concerns.

“Around 30 or 35 is the traditional age for the suicide of the poet … That’s the age when you finally understand that the universe does not succumb to your command.” Leonard Cohen

From Beautiful Creep By Richard Goldstein. Village Voice: December 28, 1967. Photo By Sony Music Entertainment. Originally posted Dec 5, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Q: Could you give up everything for beauty? Leonard Cohen “I don’t think these things are decisions one makes”

[Interviewer:] Like in “Came So Far For Beauty,” you seem, at times, to be completely under the spell of beauty, almost submissive to it. Could you give up everything for beauty?

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I don’t think these things are decisions one makes. If you have the kind of nature where you are ready to go the whole way, then you’re stuck with that kind of nature and you just go the whole way.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Having Lunch With Leonard Cohen by Jon Wilde, Sabotage Times. Dec 3, 2015 (the quote itself is taken from a 1988 interview).  Originally posted December 7, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

“There’s so little that you can do about [death]… We’ve got to live our lives as if they’re not going to end immediately. So we have to live under those – some people might call them illusions.” Leonard Cohen (2009)


Are you fearful of death?

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Everyone has to have a certain amount of anxiety about the conditions of one’s death. The actual circumstances, the pain involved, the affect on your heirs. But there’s so little that you can do about it. It’s best to relegate those concerns to the appropriate compartments of the mind and not let them inform all your activities. We’ve got to live our lives as if they’re not going to end immediately. So we have to live under those – some people might call them illusions.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From ‘I’m blessed with a certain amnesia‘ by Jian Ghomeshi. The Guardian: July 9, 2009. Originally posted Apr 23, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“One’s own life is mysterious” Leonard Cohen Rebuts Simplistic Causality

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One’s own life is mysterious. The predicaments one finds oneself in at particular moments are the result of a web of inextricable circumstances which I certainly can’t penetrate. As you get older, you begin to accept the circumstances.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

More Leonard Cohen comments on this issue can be found at

From Having Lunch With Leonard Cohen by Jon Wilde, Sabotage Times. Dec 3, 2015 (the quote itself is taken from a 1988 interview). Photo of Leonard Cohen by Roland Godefroy (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Originally posted Feb 1, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“You live your life as if it’s real … but with the intuitive understanding that it’s unfolding as it should and you are not running the show.” Leonard Cohen

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You may believe you have some control over [your] decisions, but certainly not the consequences. But you live your life as if it’s real … as if you’re directing it, but with the intuitive understanding that it’s unfolding as it should and you are not running the show.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Look Who’s Back at 67: Gentle Leonard Cohen by Frank DiGiacomo. New York Observer: Oct 15, 2001. Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post is a Sony publicity photo for Ten New Songs taken by Laszlo.Originally posted May 7, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric