An avalanche of index cards

Strange how something you’ve heard a thousand times can suddenly knock you over. Maybe it’s a shift in the light, a stray fragment of head chatter, or a lack of sleep, but a familiar phrase can become vital and brand new. Tonight I sat by the window trying to rewrite my novel for the eighteenth time, but I was mostly staring into the middle distance and questioning my life choices while Leonard Cohen’s “Avalanche” played across the room. I’ve had this song in rotation for years because I admire how its spare guitar sounds like pure dread. Tonight this lyric in the fifth verse finally hit me:

I have begun to long for you, I who have no creed. I have begun to ask for you, I who have no need.

Those two simple lines capture what I’ve been trying to express in an 80,000-word manuscript. They describe my yearning to believe in something greater, some cosmic ethic or godhead. Is such a belief even possible in 2020? I’ve insulated myself with so many diversions that I wouldn’t know where to begin. What would it feel like to believe in the otherworldly? If someone truly believed in a hereafter or radiant glory, wouldn’t they go mad? Or at least struggle with answering emails or giving a damn about selecting the best dental plan?

But the logistics of belief aren’t nearly as interesting as the craving.


Leonard Cohen – Avalanche

Songs of Love and Hate | Columbia, 1971 | More

The internet says the lyrics are I who have no greed although one source says it’s creed, which makes more sense. I stopped pursuing the question after I glimpsed the insistent interpretations that say Cohen is singing about everyone from Christ to a serial killer. I worry my sense of the song would be destroyed if I tried unpacking it like an academic text—and to what end?

Each night in 2020, I wrote a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I wanted to etch these days into my memory. Before the world changed completely.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Related Reading
November 26, 2020

Gratitude

Tonight I am grateful because I have a safe place to sleep, food to eat, and the freedom to make my own decisions.
May 27, 2020

Sacrilege

77 minutes of pitched-down techno classics melded with reverberated vocals from Bobby Vinton, the Paris Sisters, and the Moody Blues.
July 8, 2020

Sleepless

You can almost taste it, that bright metallic sensation which floods the brain when it decides there will be no sleep tonight.
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x