The courtly manners of a gentleman are rarely experienced and the last place I had expected to find them was in the in the kingdom of the famous. And then I met Leonard Cohen.
He had been a mysterious, distant character in the script of my childhood. Then I read Beautiful Losers and his poetry and music became the sound tracks of smokey university parties.
I wasn’t sure I always understood the words but I resonated with the sadness of this life which Mr Cohen articulated so poignantly.
When, much later in my life, I met the poet, the musician and the seeker in India I was amazed at the gentleness of his heart. I imagine that everyone who knew Leonard has a story to tell about his generosity and his kindness. Maybe some have stories that describe grand gestures but I have memories of simple things which left me in awe.
Leonard Cohen did not, in my experience , do kind things, Leonard was kindness. It was in the depth of his eyes and the complete attention he gave you in conversation. It was in his hands, too elegant for anything but refined gestures, music and words. His smile was a kind gift of reassurance to those on the outside of his angst. And then there was that voice, it seemed to resonate from his heart , from the core of his gentle spirit.
Maybe he lived so kindly so as not to add to the pain of life because he felt the suffering in the world so deeply. Or maybe he was what my Mother would have called, “well brought up”. Perhaps his spiritual search had led him to compassion and maybe it was quite simply the nature of the man to be so, how lucky for us.
Now in these days so near to the time he left us I find it difficult to see the image of his face and the sound of his voice can reduce me to tears. I barely knew this man and yet I ask myself did I do enough for him because this is what a kind person stimulates in others. It is an indescribable loss when kindness leaves this world.
Leonard Cohen was a man who made us want to be a better people and for all he gave us, that was amongst his greatest gifts.