One of my Rolfing® clients recently mentioned a book he is reading about "rewriting your life story." Without knowing more about the book, that snippet led me to a contemplation that evening where I reviewed my life, not from the nitty-gritty of what issues and conditioning I had to overcome but rather from what I appreciated about the twists and turns and how that has brought me to growth, situations, and people I might never have otherwise been open enough to encounter. For example, I can't imagine that my "disembodied" upbringing could have led me to my life now, self-employed in this strange but profound bodywork profession of Rolfing Structural Integration, were it not for various people, situations, and opportunities that each allowed me to open a little further, expand a bit more, develop mind-body-spirit and transform past what was the restrictive norm in my family and community. It was a very heartening exploration, appropriate as we approach Thanksgiving, a time of gratitude and appreciation.
On the same theme of gratitude, yesterday I came across this lovely speech by Leonard Cohen, given on his being awarded the 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Literature. This Spanish award honors Cohen whose "poems and songs have beautifully explored the major issues of humanity in great depth." In the speech, Cohen acknowledges the mysterious vagaries of life, the twists and turns by which unexpected pieces led him to his poetry - through the inspiration of the great Spanish poet Federico García Lorca - and to his song - through a random meeting with a young flamenco guitar player who taught him a six-chord progression that "has been the basis of all my songs and all my music."
He thus honors the artistry of Spain and concludes his speech by saying, "Everything that you have found favourable in my work comes from this place. Everything, everything that you have found favourable in my songs and my poetry are inspired by this soil. So, I thank you so much for the warm hospitality that you have shown my work because it is really yours, and you have allowed me to affix my signature to the bottom of the page."
Read that again, if you will. Let it impact you. Have you ever heard an artist pay such selfless tribute to another person, country, or lineage? Cohen is an extraordinarily selfless being, or perhaps it's that his life and Buddhist practice has led him to that over time, as he is now in his 70s. The same humility, the same graciousness, was evident when I saw him perform in Seattle in 2009: Cohen would respond to solos from members of his band with a bow, palms together, and he ceaselessly thanked the audience for coming to hear him perform, as if we were doing him a favor.
Inspired by this, may we all grow into humility and grace. May we all remember to thank those who have helped us, guided us, taught us, inspired us. And may we all remember to pay tribute to the mystery that unfolds us ever so gently.