My (im)perfect offering

This week Leonard Cohen’s Anthem has been resounding in my brain: “ring the bells that still can ring/forget your perfect offering/there’s a crack, a crack in everything/that’s how the light gets in”. I’ve been ruminating on perfection (non-existence of), the gifts one possesses even as one feels abilities diminishing in one sense, and the beauty and validity of the cracks in everything. This week different parts of the poem have come into relief too: “do not dwell on what has passed away or what is yet to be”, is one. “They’ve summoned up, they’ve summoned up a thundercloud, and they’re gonna hear from me”, another, and “Every heart, every heart to love will come, but like a refugee”, still another.

How do these things relate to my singing practice, and how, in turn, do those relate to my selfhood? (The title of the blog IS Singing and Self, after all…) As far as that refrain goes, I’m making room for allowing my bell to ring–I take that as being the singing of my song, literally and figuratively. It’s not the same bell as it was when I was in my singing prime. It’s burnished and scratched by time and toil, but it’s also been polished to a fine patina. I am willing to own this. As for the “perfect offering”: I have struggled all my singing life with the vain pursuit of perfection, knowing full well for some time that it doesn’t exist. I am working on letting go and allowing the cracks to show so that the light can shine through–that truth can be shown. I’m also really living into my stage of life too: why pretend I am not the age I am (60!) and value my achievements, scars, cracks and all? This goes for my presence in the world as well; no more apologizing for myself and my largeness, no more diminishing myself to make others feel comfortable, pretending to be something I’m not.

But perhaps more than this refrain, at the moment it is the first stanza that says “start again” that breaks my heart and gives me hope at the same time. It is never too late to begin again. To dust ourselves off and start anew. Every day is a new day. Every breath, a new breath with which we sing afresh, with new lyrics. I can be present in this moment, not dwelling on who I was or how I sang before, or what might happen tomorrow. Here right now. And I feel a new power inside me, like a thundercloud, and I will make myself heard. And broken as I am, as we all are, love is always possible and present. And we will find refuge after the long journey. Voice as home.