You’re all I need to get by

Sage CohenUncategorized12 Comments

It happened by accident. I was walking my puppy, Bodhi. The night before, I’d put the man I love on an airplane that would take him to a new, truer life that did not include me. I’d been haunted by this song since hearing it in the movie CODA weeks before. When I noticed myself humming it nonstop, I found the original online, put in my ear buds, and was swept away by song.


The streets evaporated as Bodhi and I were suddenly strutting down the yellow brick road of duet. I sang the male lead, the female lead, the chorus. I was melody, harmony, unity. I was everyone who had ever left me, I was all the parts of me that had abandoned myself. We all came back together in the higher truth of song, the gorgeously mended patchwork of my heart. I was singing myself whole.


I swung the poop bag over my head like a lasso, sauntered and sashayed down the sidewalk. Bodhi jumped and tugged at the leash, overcome at his good fortune that I was behaving so badly. We romped like that for a full 45 minutes — a wild, emoting human and leaping, galivanting dog alive with song. Through the veil of history, I linked arms with Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrel. We sang our hearts out all the way home.

I’d forgotten that this is what self-soothing looked like for me in childhood. Playing cassette tapes in my little pink tape recorder in my pink bedroom, I’d belt out Donna Summer songs, The Beatles, and “Ease on Down the Road” from The Wiz while improvising dance routines for an audience of stuffed animals.

With so much of what once pleased me stripped away in this life chapter, I’d stumbled into the truth I knew intuitively when I was young: a simple duet can change everything.


We’ve all lost so much. We’ve all suffered and struggled. What if we were already equipped with everything we need to recover? Is there a song you could sing to honor the empty places, to begin to integrate what’s been broken? Is there a crazy dance you could do that makes you laugh? That helps you grieve? That alarms the neighbors?   A poem or story you could write to help move it on through? Or maybe there’s some forgotten practice from your childhood that you might resurrect?

I honor all the parts of you that have been scattered and invite them back to this moment. I believe that you are all that you need to get by.


I’d love to hear about the practices that are helping you heal, integrate, transform, and triumph in the comments below!



12 Comments on “You’re all I need to get by”

  1. Your email gave me shivers. Yesterday (09/23) about 8 am Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” started going through my head. I thought, “Aarin, no!” Aarin is my niece who had just been intubated the night before in an ICU in Las Vegas to help save her life. She had COVID pneumonia. I thought it was imagination. It couldn’t be. She’d only been admitted a week earlier. But the song continued. A half hour later, my brother, her dad, emailed that she had just passed away. The music got louder and louder in my head. The whole family is in shock that it happened so fast. But the song is a comfort to me still coming at me when a wave of grief hits. I don’t know when I’ll be able to dance again, but I do know I will.

    1. Oh, Katheryn, I’m so very sorry for your loss. I’ll be singing “Hallelujah” with you and holding you and Aarin in my heart.

  2. Sage, that is an absolutely BRILLIANT piece of writing! It gives me hope and shows your big heart, not to mention your wisdom about self-soothing. Thank you for sharing that. The spirit of it and the honesty really made my day!

  3. Wow! Such a amazing illustrative story. I also use music to help moderate emotions, often to help get through the blues or to celebrate the high’s of life. I am in awe of the power of song to evoke an emotional response. My go to songs span various genres and include many timeframes, from Frank Sinatra to Eric Church, from Meatloaf to Dan Fogelberg, and David Bowie to Elvis – all with specific personal meaning.

    Sending you strength for your heartache and wishing that you play your uplifting mix more often then your lonely and sad soundtrack.

  4. Thanks so much, Spencer! I love hearing about the music that inspires you to navigate life! And I love the invitation to play the uplifting mix — much appreciated!! A hug to you across distance + time!

  5. It’s 4:40 a.m. on a cold, dreay Monday morning when I laying tucked under blankets reading this post. These are the exact words I need to see as my sign of confirmation that Writing ✍ is the key that will unlock the doors that I’m meant to walk through in order to take care of myself without being dependent on anyone but me because like tge song say I have all I need to get by. Thanks for the confirmation.
    Jacqueline Waddy-Jones
    aka Creative Girl49

    1. Jacqueline, this stopped me in my tracks: Writing ✍ is the key that will unlock the doors that I’m meant to walk through. So powerful! Thank you for sharing this reflection with us!

  6. Hi Sage,

    I liked your post, especially the line, something like, “I was everyone who’d ever left me.” Moving, and good food for thought.

    I have not visited your blog before, and mainly came to say thank you for your book Fierce on the Page, which I read (via the Chicago Public Library) last year and found helpful. I have a printed photocopy of some pages right here next to me. I just watched your brief YouTube video about altering the story you tell yourself about yourself, and it hit the spot for me today.

    1. Hi Geoffrey, So delighted to hear from you. Thanks for letting me know how we’ve connected on the page and screen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *