“There is a crack in everything—that’s how the light gets in.” This line from Leonard Cohen's song "Anthem" long ago became my life-enriching motto. Though Leonard passed away just over a year ago, he continues to advise me from the wall above my desk via my recently acquired collage by Parisian artist Andre-Didier Dana.
In our various cultures, we have a variety of approaches to how we think about and behave around our mistakes, failures, insufficiencies. Of course, we generally admit that "nobody's perfect", but when faced by our own inadequacies, it is easy to retreat into self-recrimination, depression, doing our best to save face on the surface, even with those closest to us. Cohen's poetic lines are a healthy antidote to helplessness. He reminds us that the cracks we find in ourselves or the faults in our self-presentation armor can also admit the flashes of enlightenment. They are calls to opportunity, open doors, allowing the fresh air of change to rush in and refresh.
Even in the face of defeat Cohen offers hope, when "Everybody knows" how badly things may be going in the world about them. No surprise when I was recently told that this song has been adapted and adopted as a resistance anthem against an oppressive regime. Tomorrow we will look at how we can benefit from the light shining through our sometimes-painful cracks.
Image: Quote from the Leonard Cohen song "Anthem" – collage portrait by Andre-Didier Dana