Surrender to Your Emotions

Remembering the Legendary Leonard Cohen

Tami Bulmash
Nov 7, 2019 · 4 min read
Photo by Philippe Huard on Pexel

I am not the one who loves
It’s love that chooses me.
When hatred with his package comes,
You forbid delivery.

— Leonard Cohen

Weaving wisdom with lament, Cohen created a space for kindred spirits finding comfort in his sweet songs of sorrow. With a soft and soothing baritone, he imparted tales of love and loss, light and darkness, life and death.

Born in 1934 to a middle-class Jewish family, Cohen would become one of Canada’s greatest prodigies. Though he began his career as a poet, he became one of the most venerated singer-songwriters of all-time.

Cohen’s music career developed in the sixties, quickly gaining acclaim and a cult following. But as the years went by, the tumultuous lifestyle on the road took a toll on him.

He would come to forge a relationship with Buddhism. In a Zen monastery in Los Angeles, Cohen would meet one of his greatest influences, Zen Master Kyozan Joshu Sasaki, or Roshi.

If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will

— Leonard Cohen

“Roshi and I were drinking a very good, very powerful Chinese liquor. Roshi was dozing off, and I didn’t think he was terribly interested in the recording process. But the next morning over breakfast, I asked morning over breakfast, I asked him what he thought. He said, “Leonard, you should sing more sad.” He meant for me to surrender to the emotions. To accept it.”

Cohen has described this as one of the decisive moments in his life. Rather than conform to a style that was popular but inauthentic, Cohen listened to his mentor. Roshi helped Cohen dig deeper into who he was, not who he thought he should be.

Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

— Leonard Cohen

Perhaps this is why his music penetrates the hearts of millions of people across the globe. Cohen consistently delivers unapologetic morose, creating a pathway of healing for those wishing to surrender to emotion as well.

And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

— Leonard Cohen

A magical evening it was. A collective energy of love and light emanating from the crowds. I stood beside one of my dearest friends, Manoli, as we took in the magnitude of this amazing moment in time.

As we sang with him and cried with him, we felt one with him. Through the tears of his prayer, If It Be Your Will, covered by the ethereal Webb sisters, to his immortal, Hallelujah, we stood in gratitude for this time with him.

Throughout my life, Leonard Cohen was like a faithful friend whose foresight shed light on the inexplainable — the unanswerable. Cohen’s permeating prose helped me tap into my own sadness over and over again. Rather than judge or push it away, I enjoyed the validation his admission afforded me.

I danced to Leonard Cohen’s music on vinyl records as a child, not knowing what the lyrics meant but understanding that they somehow moved me. I later danced to his words of love at my wedding, this time, recognizing and appreciating the incredible journey of song he let me be a part of.

Though he may no longer be with us in body, may his spirit forever dance to the end of love.

Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love

— Leonard Cohen

The Partnered Pen

MPP friends writing about life, love, and everything else in between together.

Tami Bulmash

Written by

Author of iPosture: A Closer Look at the Lifestyle Practices of Children and coauthor of Amazon bestseller Heart & Soul. More at

The Partnered Pen

MPP friends writing about life, love, and everything else in between together.

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