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The Eyes of Leonard

At the end of March 2022, I was staying in a small rental apartment in downtown Montreal for 2 nights. My depression was at an ultimate low and I wasn’t feeling well. I went there in search of some tranquility amongst the chaos, but as my luck would have it, chaos found me. I remember it precisely because it was a cold spring morning and I was outside walking around looking for a coffee shop and everything was closed, which I thought was odd for such a busy area. I was feeling vulnerable, I was sad, and I was alone. I hated life that day, but I continued on my coffee quest. The faint smell of garbage wafted its way through the air and there was construction at every corner. It was noisy. With my air pods jammed in my ears, I walked up and down the streets, until eventually I found a Starbucks.


Coffee in hand, I started heading back to the apartment. It didn’t take long until I realized I had no idea where I was. Although the sun was starting to break apart the grey sky, I was feeling anxious and the urgency to get indoors was becoming a necessity. I needed to Google Map myself back so I looked up in search of a street sign. Instead, I was startled by the 10,000 square-foot, 21 stories above the city, mural of Leonard Cohen.

There he was, in all his glory, just staring at me. I literally stopped in my tracks. I backed up, found a cleanish stump to sit on and switched the music in my ears to play his 2001 release, “In My Secret Life,” a song he’d been working on since 1988. I love this song. I guess I can relate to it on some level. I often feel that I too have been living a secret life. Aren’t we all?

I closed my eyes and grounded myself by taking a few deep breaths. Not before long, I opened my eyes and refocused on the mural. This time, the mural seemed different. I tilted my head to the right and looked a little closer. I noticed the soft red glow behind Leonard’s fingers. The longer I looked, the brighter the glow became and the warmer it felt. His heart was shining down on me and I could feel it! Although I didn’t turn into a unicorn and fly away, I do believe, on that day something magical happened and I grew wings.

I sat with Leonard for quite some time that morning. I embraced the depth of his voice and the scratchiness of his vocals as they accompanied me. I continued to sip on my coffee as I stared into his eyes. I was beginning to feel fueled by the truth and wisdom in his words and the heaviness of my mood was lifting. I listened carefully to what he was saying and I understood, now more than ever, the knowledge and meaning behind his lyrics and I felt safe. That morning, I allowed the music to carry me through the darkness of the daylight as I headed for shelter.

As I started to walk away, I turned my head to examine the mural one last time and it was then that I was reminded of the time I first heard his voice. I was only 12 years old but I remember it well as I hadn’t heard anyone like him before. His song, Everybody Knows, was featured in the 1990 film ‘Pump Up the Volume’ starring Christian Slater and Samantha Mathis. A teen-age drama about an illegal “pirate” FM radio station, a slightly controversial film for those days. I watched the movie several times in my teenage years and although the movie itself stood out it was mostly the soundtrack that brought me back. It was the voice of Leonard. I don’t know all the details of his life but I do know Leonard was a rebellious bad-ass that often single-handedly sabotaged himself. By no means was he a perfect man but he loved life and lived it well. To his core, Leonard was a true renaissance man and with the wardrobe to prove it, he lived through his own legacy with dignity and pride.

It may have been the life and lyrics behind the man or perhaps the larger-than-life painting of Leonard that inspired me that day, but either way I was compelled to write. The need to share my stories and perspective's while on this journey called to me. On that cold spring day, in downtown Montreal, the music and lyrics of Leonard Cohen accompanied me into the wee hours of the morning and as I stood beyond my years and reflected on my life's legacy. I typed, I wrote, and I researched. I committed to myself, heart, and soul and just like that, The Stasia Story was born.


Have A Remarkable Day!


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