Saturday, July 11, 2009

Turn Off the Questions

I read an interview of Leonard Cohen by Jian Ghomeshi, which was published in the Guardian. The interview was done in anticipation of another of Cohen's concerts in Weybridge, UK, perhaps tonight. The interview was interesting as much for the questions asked as for the answers given. Ghomeshi seems fixated on Cohen's views of and beliefs about death, asking questions like "Is there a way to prepare for death?" That's just one of several that struck me as odd questions to ask of a performer, even a 74 year old performer.

But then it occurred to me that so much of Cohen's music deals with life and death and emotion and depth of experience that it's no wonder some people expect him to have answers that he simply can't have. But they ask anyway. And I can't blame them.

I've often wished there were someone with whom I could have a conversation about questions to which there are no answers, someone who wouldn't consider the questions nor the ensuing conversations morbid nor self-indulgent. I can see how Cohen comes across as just such a person, someone who's approachable and non-judgmental and extraordinarily intelligent to understand that those questions bear discussing.

One of the questions that didn't deal with death that was equally intriguing was "Do you regret not having a lifelong partner?" I like Cohen's response: "Non, je ne regrette rien. (No, I have no regrets.) I'm blessed with a certain amount of amnesia and I really don't remember what went down. I don't review my life that way."

I wonder how many people who do have lifelong partners wonder how different their lives would have been had they not married or not lived in a single committed relationship? Is wondering equivalent to regret? I don't think so, but maybe it is.

Sometimes I do regret that I don't have a switch that will allow me to turn off the questions I constantly ask myself. It wouldn't be so bad, except for the answers or lack thereof.


YourFireAnt said...

That famous Edith Piaf line.


Springer Kneeblood said...

Yes, I suspect he was thinking of her recording when he responded.