I was, once again, attending a three-day workshop on Self-development at a nearby university. The workshop included a focus on some of the practical psychologies including those that stemmed from the theories of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Fritz Perls. The facilitator of the course was softly spoken and had a charming American accent. I liked him. On the second day he began with: “O.K. folks: write down three words that describe your personality as you experience it. And then think of a song that has something significant to say about you. ”
I thought about this for a while: words like ‘temperamental’ and ‘insecure’ and ‘anxious’ as well as ‘polite’ came to mind. But then, without much further thought, I wrote down: moody, unpredictable and difficult. As I looked at the words I realised that, perhaps for most of my life, I had spent huge amounts of time and energy disguising or concealing my actual feelings.
Then I thought of a song that ‘said’ something significant about me. I nearly wrote down, ‘How can you hang on to a dream?’ by Tim Hardin but instead I chose Leonard Cohen’s ‘Alexandra leaving’. It’s an astonishing song: most of the time I can’t face listening to it but there are days – especially days that are sunny and I’m alone and driving my car on the open road – when I can play and sing along to ‘Alexandra leaving’. And the line in the song that really sticks in my mind and with which I connect is: In full command of every plan you wrecked.
I know that there are various analyses of this particular song but for me, the line ‘In fuIl command of every plan you wrecked’ serves as a warning: It warns me not to give in to my dark side and it also reminds me to anticipate the wreckage and damage that other people bring about.