I believe we don’t live in our lives; we live in the stories we tell about our lives. What happened is far less significant than how we interpret what it means to us—and how this leads us forward.
Which is why I have dedicated a lifetime to studying the possibilities of language, poem, and story. One of my great teachers on this path has been Leonard Cohen. This singer-songwriter-poet first insinuated himself into my nervous system with this chorus from his song Anthem:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
Throughout my adult life, I have clung to this wisdom. I made it my North Star. I developed a practice of living alongside the unsolvable, of welcoming myself as I am, of leaning into my deepest fissures in search of illumination. In effect, a single chorus of a single song has initiated me into the alchemies of acceptance and transcendence.
And because I have persistently sought the light through my broken places, this is where I have learned to find it.
When Leonard Cohen left us a few weeks ago, I was already immobilized by reflections of my culture and my country that I could not yet comprehend. I looked to poems, as I always have, to help me navigate my grief and return to center.
These are some of the poems that help me let the light in. I offer them to you with respect for your broken places and gratitude for your commitment to show up at the page and navigate by the truth of what moves through you.
May you read and write exactly what you need to find your true way forward—now and always. And may each offering you make bring you closer to what illuminates you.
Wishing you and yours a nourishing Thanksgiving.
P.S. What poems, stories, or books do you turn to for help letting the light in? I’d love to hear!