One of my favorite poems is a song by Leonard Cohen called “Going Home.” It was published in The New Yorker when I was in high school. I cut it out and pasted it into a diary.
One of my favorite lines reads,
“He wants to write a love song
An anthem for forgiving
A manual for living with defeat
A cry above the suffering
A sacrifice recovering
But that isn’t what I want him to complete.”
Take those words as you may, but for me it has always meant that people want to relate. That’s why we write. And more simply, that’s why we speak.
Yesterday I was fishing off of a pier with my father. We didn’t speak much. The loudest noise between us was the fly whistling in earshot as I cast my rod.
My grandmother was there. I told her a few stories of my life in LA. I asked about my cousins. It became abundantly clear to me how lonely she was and how even her grandchildren have grown up and moved along.
It was hard for the two of us to relate to one another. So, instead I talked about the sunset. How perfect the light looked as it pirouetted along the horizon. She seemed more at ease with that topic. I guess that jut says that sunsets are universally enjoyed.
That moment and that poem remind me that if we all take a step back from the people that we have so carefully crafted ourselves to be, if we can view a situation minus ourselves, it’s simpler. It’s like going home.