The announcement was posted on Facebook a couple of hours ago. Leonard Cohen died. He was a great poet, songwriter and artist who lived a very full life and touched many.
I always admired Cohen’s work, but became especially interested in him recently. Last month, on the eve of Kol Nidre, a friend shared an article from the New Yorker about Leonard’s life, as well as a link to his newest song “You Want It Darker.” The story is fascinating; the song, haunting. He experienced more than most. In his captivating tone, using Abraham’s response Hineni – I am here – to God’s call, it seems that Cohen’s last hit offers a final accounting of the life he witnessed as he himself prepared to meet God. It is chilling and, at eighty-two, he’s now gone.
So what does Leonard Cohen have to do with this week’s election?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
* * *
As I walked into the salon, Autumn immediately waved me over to her table. “I ready for you,” she said with a smile. And then she looked at my fingers and frowned. “What you do to your nails?’ she chided me as she assessed the peeled polish, cracked tips, and bitten cuticles. “It’s been a stressful week,” I shrugged. She shook her head, got down to work and then asked, “Who you vote for? You sad?”
I know it doesn’t matter for whom I voted. I also know it doesn’t matter if I’m happy or sad about the outcome. Both campaigns were flawed. “Autumn,” I began, “let me ask you something. Are you moving back to Vietnam sometime soon?” “No, no, no,” she said, “I love America.” “Are you worried about Donald Trump being our new president?” “No, I not worried.” “Good,” I said.
Autumn is a dedicated and a hard worker. Her sweetness oozes from her pours. Her income, combined with her husband’s, supports their immediate and extended families. They live from paycheck to paycheck. She has known a life that is far worse and more challenging than what she experiences here. She is grateful for her citizenship.
We talked about people who are claiming they’ll move to Canada or Europe or elsewhere because Donald Trump won the election. (Even I stated at one point that perhaps it’s time for me to move to Israel.) But moving solves nothing. It doesn’t guarantee a better life. It certainly doesn’t promise a political system that is less corrupt or more effective in meeting the needs of the majority of its people.
And so, I choose to remain my ever-hopeful-self. I pray that Donald Trump will rise to the challenge like any other Commander-in-Chief who takes on a new job. I pray that all of those who sneer, snicker, and feel embarrassed will be proven wrong. I pray that Trump’s success as our new president will be even more shocking than winning the election.
* * *
I got into the car, my nails beautifully restored. As Pandora loaded from my phone and began to play, the beautiful voices of the Pentatonix filled the air. I smiled and thought of Leonard Cohen. Just a few weeks ago, the five-year-old A Cappella group came out with their own rendition of Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as part of their new Christmas album. Their version, full of youthful passion and energy, is a fitting tribute to a legend.
Leonard Cohen may be gone, but his wonderful legacy will live on.
What will be Donald Trump’s legacy?