Thursday, October 12, 2006

State of Grace

In the terrific documentary, Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr Leonard Cohen, there is black-and-white footage from Canadian television. Mind you, this is footage from the early sixties, when Mr Cohen was known as the poet of Montreal and well before he had embarked on his career as a musician. He is being interviewed and the host asks Cohen how he starts his day. Cohen answers, "I ask myself if I am in a state of grace."

That answer made a real impression on me, not only for its simplicity but also for being so apropos to humanity.

Living each day as if it were your last on earth, this question seems like the perfect one to ask. Posing it, one is confronted with what kind of action you will choose to take. Will I go through the day as I have complete control over my situation, or will I recognise that larger forces are at work?

I recall SF author Philip K Dick's approach to getting up in the morning, one that was very different from Mr Cohen's. (Yes, shocking, I know, considering Mr Dick was a psychedelic paranoiac of the highest degree.) Mr Dick was of the opinion that the malevolent universe was out to get him and would start off his day inundated with dread and fear. This kind of experience I can more easily relate to than Cohen's.

I am more likely to bring my head up off the pillow in a cold sweat, rather than in the serene attitude the poet of Montreal suggests. This doesn't mean I don't aspire to ask his question every day, but sadly my attitude is more in line with believing that the universe is cold and deadly. This is a direct refutation of faith, and a way of caving in, as it were, to the doomsday cloud of human reality.

How can I be accountable to grace? If I believe that I am entitled to its sanction, yet take no action to recognise that every day I must ask myself if it is real, this lack of acountability is sure to have an impact. Rather than cultivating faith, instead I will continue drowning in fear.

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