Release Date

September 29th, 2021

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Annie Lennox joins host Zainab Salbi on the debut episode of Redefined to talk about the personal moments that have shaped her identity as a citizen, activist, artist, daughter, and mother. Formative and transformative stories of hope, loss, struggle and awakening fill this heartfelt conversation.

“It’s like a light gets switched on. There’s a feeling of heart opening, unconditional love. I’m putting these labels onto it, but it doesn’t do it any justice.”

INSPIRATION

TRANSCRIPT

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Hello everyone, and welcome to Redefined. I’m Zainab Salbi, and my guest today on our very first episode is the one and only Annie Lennox. Annie, of course, is a founding member of the band Eurythmics. As a solo artist, she’s a Grammy winner, an Oscar winner, and a musician whose soulfulness, power, and tender awareness of what it means to be alive continues to make her voice beloved around the world. But as you’ll find out, I have come to love Annie for an entirely different set of reasons: for who she is as a person, as a mother, as an activist, a citizen, and a friend, and for who she is still evolving to become. Annie lives her life bravely, vulnerably, and with a palpable sense of deep and raw reflection. For these reasons, she is somebody I am constantly learning from, and I’m very excited to share our heartfelt conversation with you. Hi Annie.

Annie Lennox:

Hello, it’s just you and me now.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

It’s just you and me. Well, first of all, I really wanted to thank you for giving me the interview because I know it’s exhausting to always do interviews and give up yourself. So I really, really, really appreciate the gift, thank you.

Annie Lennox:

Well it’s true, I’m drained, I’m really drained, I’m sure you are too.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I understand.

Annie Lennox:

I mean, to be honest with you, it is such a pleasure to talk to you at any point at all. I mean, I really mean that, and it is just an honor for me and a privilege to talk with you, Zainab, honestly.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Thank you. Thank you. I really appreciate it and I feel it, and I know it, and I’m so full of gratitude and love, as you know. And I was thinking about the conversation that I want to have, first of all, it’s personal for me, it came out of turning moments in my life that made me question what is the essence of life and what are the most important things about life and how should we live it in a way that is authentic and from our heart. And that came because I had a near-death experience, as you may know, and really made me question everything, even though I’m an activist and a humanitarian, and all of that, it still made me question what is the most important things about life. And so I literally decided to call the people that I love and admire and respect the most and ask them about the lessons they learned in turning in their lives and how they shaped their lives internally.

The world knows you, Annie, externally, as the musician, songwriter, producer, activist, that’s known. And what I’m really interested [in], is the internal conversations. The intimate conversations we have with our hearts, with ourselves and how have these conversations and how have turning moments in life taught you about what is most important about life. And so I have many questions-these are conversations, not necessarily an interview-but the first one I want to start is, surely there must be a lot of turning moments in your life, but if you are to give me one that just pops in your head right now, that showed you something, opened your eyes to something that is so important about life, what would that be?

Annie Lennox:

It’s strange because I’ve been reflecting on this so much, about the narrative and what is life and all the things that you wish to talk about. This is much, much deeper than the projections and the externals that people perhaps assume. And there is so much to us, all of this is surface, all of this is surface. Well, the one that jumps to mind right away is giving birth and becoming a mother, right away, because it is a huge, huge turning point, most profound, most profound. I think because, Zainab, I’m an only child, I didn’t have brothers and sisters and so everything was very singular and I was very focused ultimately on what I was doing in life throughout my twenties, that whole decade, and into my early thirties. And I never ever thought about having children really, because I just was focused on what I was doing in that, I could say professional, but really artistic, creative sense.

Well, you know I lost my first child, I think I probably shared that with you, and so that was a massive, massive . . . the shock of that was so profound, I never expected that to happen. I’m not going to go to that, I’m going to go to delivering my healthy daughter who is now thirty, because actually probably after losing that baby, which was just . . . I never, ever thought in my life that would ever happen, anything like that. It’s like all of these things, you never think you’re going to get sick, you never think . . . there’s so many things that happen, and then you’re just so shocked that actually you’re in it, you’re in this life situation. So the upside is actually delivering a healthy baby, and the miracle of that, it was even more profound, it was even more heightened because it had gone so poorly in contrast to the other experience of loss.

Actually I so, so, so, so appreciated that my daughter was alive and here, and it was a miracle and it is a miracle and life is a miracle, and all of it is a miracle, and you have such a transformation.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

So gratitude.

Annie Lennox:

There are some experiences in life that you cannot put into words, you just can’t, you just can’t. I mean, think even the simplest thing, just think about it, I mean, an orange. If you take an orange, how do you describe an orange, flavor of an orange, the smell of an orange, all of it, and then you compare it to an apple or something. Everything is so miraculous.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

It’s so true. I have to tell you, whenever I eat an apple, because I like the juice and the crisp, I was like, “That’s how we should live life, with that utter joy and appreciation and gratitude for that just simple moment of eating an apple.” So in other words, the loss helped you not take for granted the birth and the beauty basically.

Annie Lennox:

Even more, even more. I think it was, I don’t know. I mean, if I’d had my first baby and everything had been smooth and fine, it still would have been miraculous, it would have been what it was, but contrasted against such a dark experience, it made an even more profound gratitude.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

That’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. Actually I’m learning these days that gratitude could perhaps be the ultimate expression of love, of life, because it’s there, right in front of us, life, and we just sometimes take it for granted and not show gratitude. So the gratitude of every event, and the birthing is a very important event, is one of the ultimate expressions of love for life.

Annie Lennox:

You see, it’s almost like, I would have to say it’s like a light gets switched on. I mean, there’s a feeling of heart opening, unconditional love. I mean, I’m putting these labels onto it, it doesn’t do it any justice. So then that’s the thing, so you go into life and everything is heightened. This is my experience.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I love it.

Annie Lennox:

You know what I’m saying?

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I love it. Yes, I love it.

Annie Lennox:

This is my own personal experience. So then in the context of this opening of your heart and realizing, oh my God, I mean, I get goosebumps talking about it. You see, then it’s like everything is coming from that perspective in a sense, the preciousness. So you go to a park and you see other women pushing their babies and you understand, oh wow, they went through it too. And you don’t know what it was exactly for them, it could have been all manner of things, but there they are with their children and they feel this or you see . . . it was a strange thing because I mean, I’ve had so many experiences out of the context of a conventional life. So in a way, so again, I saw later on, children in abject poverty, the kind of poverty I’d never seen in my own country. And so I saw this poverty and it hurts so much. It hurts, it really, really hurts.

So everything has two sides, the way I see it, of course it does, the shadow and the light, all of that. But I think what is so painful and difficult and challenging is to hold both things, because when you’re empathetic and your heart is wide open like that, and you feel for everything, you also see the other side.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Absolutely. But that’s what makes life so real. I mean, when people ask me, what is my favorite country in the world, I tell them Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo. And the reason is Congo is in a horrible war and has been for decades now, but the reason I love Congo is because life and death coexist on a daily basis, and the beauty and the ugliness, the beauty of life and humans and the ugliness of humans, honestly, how awful what we do to each other, also coexist. And that helps me see life in its rawness appreciate the goodness so much more than when everything is good, and you don’t see that contrast.

Annie Lennox:

See, this is the thing, I’m going to, because this is a personal conversation and I’m going to be as authentic as I can, heart to heart with you. I find it, see, as you say, you appreciate the darkness in the light, the two things going together, I’ve never been to Congo, I know some of the darkest stories I’ve ever heard of in my life that have come from this country. In terms of rape as a weapon of mass destruction, and all of that, it’s just inconceivable to me. I find it very challenging, you see, to hold that darkness of human beings, and the darkness, I find it really . . . I wish I could do better at that, but I don’t, I struggle with it because I want it all to be beautiful.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

But it’s impossible to do better at that. I mean, it breaks my heart every time. I mean, there’s a mystic poem, a Sufi, I think it says, oh, break my heart, oh break my heart again so I can love even more. So for me, the way I deal with it is in the heartbreak at seeing humanity doing to each other and to Earth what we do, it allows me to see also, Annie, the beauty of humans, because there’s so much love we have and beauty and creativity and imaginations, and that’s beautiful, and that helps me love even more. But it’s the heartbreak that allows me to love even more. But I mean, there’s no easy way to deal with it. Every time I used to go to the countries that are war zones, as when I was working with Women for Women, I would come and sob, but still I choose, I choose to see love over fear. It’s like a choice on a daily basis that one has to do it over discipline, act basically.

Annie Lennox:

I think in a way, I’m seeing a picture of a rope that one has to hold on to. And if that rope is a symbol of the goodness, and Mandela always said hope over despair. And I can tell you that I am struggling on this rope, I am struggling.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I see it like, have you seen that movie, Cinema Paradiso?

Annie Lennox:

I’ve heard of it and I-

Zainab Salbi (Host):

So this guy who loves this woman, and he’s waiting for her in front of the building and she’s not coming down for her date. And he waits for her as it thunders. And in the morning and the night, and he’s just saying, “I love you and I’m waiting for you.” And I feel like, so for me the rope is an umbrella of saying, I am staying in love, I am staying in hope, I shall not give up, I shall not give up until the change happens. And I do, I do believe in the possibilities of change, I mean, it’s a trust and it’s like the triumph of hope over the despair that is happening right now.

Annie Lennox:

It’s a daily struggle, I find. So that is it, so I would just say my daughter, I have two, the younger one, Tali, said something about practice. She said something about practice. And I thought, Oh, that’s really elegant, I like that she even considers that there is a practice. I’ve never taught practice, but at the stage in her life, just used that word independently, and I was a bit humbled by that because I thought, she gets it, I just need to practice. I have been, to be again, very personal stuff, just sitting, going to a quiet space and actually, it’s a cupboard.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Seriously, it is?

Annie Lennox:

It’s a cupboard. I have a cupboard.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I love it.

Annie Lennox:

And I just feel so contained in this, that the-

Zainab Salbi (Host):

It’s your temple.

Annie Lennox:

Yeah, it’s kind of a cupboard, it’s curtains, but it doesn’t matter, it’s the feeling of being cocooned.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

That’s beautiful, that’s beautiful.

Annie Lennox:

Trying to just create a practice, I think, is really probably that’s it, probably it, you practice the hope over despair.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I do. I do. I do. I call it an appointment with my heart, I practice going to my heart every day. Let me ask you a question. I want to go back to your childhood because your childhood gave you another perspective at life. It wasn’t a privileged childhood. And I remember your speech at Glasgow University graduation two years ago, and I was so touched by it because you talked to the students about the humbleness of the way you were raised. And here’s their iconic woman talking about that humble beginning and what it taught you and gave you a perspective about life. What do you think in your childhood that stayed with you, that helped you to contribute to who you are today?

Annie Lennox:

I’m grateful that I wasn’t given a religious upbringing, that’s number one that comes to mind.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Why?

Annie Lennox:

Because it gave me spaciousness to come to my own conclusions about everything regarding organized religion, belief, faith-based systems, all of that. I didn’t have to struggle the way that people have had to sometimes take themselves out with tremendous guilt, from belief systems that have held them in a place that has shamed them, that has diminished them, that has stigmatized them in certain ways. Now I’m not against organized religion, it’s just not that, but just for me personally, when I see certain aspects of it, and it’s so many expressions of all religions, I’m just grateful that I didn’t have to . . . it would have been an extra complication in my head, in my mind. So I have gratitude for that. I hope that makes sense. That’s number one.

But there were values, there were definite values that I think were good from that, from my, as you say, humble upbringing, there’s a certain work ethic that came from that, not bad, that’s okay. Definitely a feeling of what’s right and what’s wrong, and what’s just and what’s unjust, that came very strongly. So these are certain core values that I’m really grateful for, honesty, decency, these things I really, really value. And I don’t think that you have to be religious in order to have those values at all, they’re just good human decency. What is it to be human? I mean, the positive side of being a human being-compassion, kindness, empathy, all of these things. I mean, it just seems like when I think about [it] again, I go back to being a mother and I know the love, the love has to be so consistent, it’s not just about feeling love, it’s about a loving action. It’s tiny little details, it’s consideration, and I’m saying this being a working mother. So again, there’s always a challenge, it’s never just easy and perfect, it’s not like that, but still you try to act on your love.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I feel like the foundation of love is the best, almost the best thing a parent can give to a child, and that love can happen also in poverty and in wars and all of that. At least that’s what I learned in my life growing up in war, that the one thing that I never questioned and I’ve been through war and displacement and marriage and rape, arranged marriage and rape and all of that. But the one thing throughout that, that helped me together as an individual, was I always knew that my parents loved me. And honestly, it is true, I really always knew.

And one time my father asked me, he said, “Was I a good father?” And I had a very tumultuous relationship with my father, but also a life of turmoil with a lot of richness and poverty and country in war. But I was like, “The best gift you gave me is love.” And I never questioned his love or my mom’s love. And from that, you can deal better, just a little bit better with the pain. And when I hear you, it seems like you had that love, Annie, from your parents.

Annie Lennox:

I did, I did. I know that I was loved, but in my culture, the love was expressed mainly by taking care. It was not an affectionate, necessarily-there may have been affection, but it was constrained. There’s no blame here, and certainly my parents came out of the Second World War, they were teenagers. And I always have this quote of my father saying he didn’t have a youth, you’ll be able to appreciate that. And the time when he told me that, when I was trying to have a youth and he’s not understanding my youthfulness and my desires, of course, because I mean, I just wanted to run away, I just wanted to get out. There’s conflict, there’s a lot of conflict.

And it’s a strange thing because this lockdown that we’ve been through and that we’re coming out over and we’re going back into, I don’t know where we’re exactly at, the world is so much at odds with COVID and the different circumstances that we all seem to be living through. It’s given me opportunities, and like everybody I’m sure, to reflect a lot. And for some reason, my childhood just comes back and comes back, and it’s as if there’s something, I feel that I still have a lot to come to terms with, even though you can dig and dig, there’s still a lot in there that I don’t think I’ve quite come to terms with.

Zainab Salbi (Host) In terms of with your parents or with . . .

Everything, everything, just about everything. I’m doing that, I’m doing that, I have counsel with a wonderful therapist once a week, I speak with her and she has become like a friend, like a very good friend who I can speak with. And I’m saying this to you because the disclosure is something that is important that people know, that having therapy is a really good thing if you can get access to it. I think there was a tremendous stigma surrounding something like the word therapy, like, oh, there’s something wrong with you? Well, actually, there’s something wrong with everybody.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Absolutely, who doesn’t. And for me, when people ask me, I mean, sometimes even you ask me, Annie, on Instagram, like, “What are you reading?” It’s like, really all what I learn is through my therapy, with my therapist, and it’s an internal process, that’s my biggest learning is as I work on myself and dissolve my pain and my anxiety and all of these things, they get dissolved. And then in that, they become, I call it, a book in my library. Oh, that’s depression, oh, that’s loneliness, oh, that’s anxiety, oh, that’s happiness, oh that joy, oh that’s love, and then it makes me feel empathetic as people go through the same emotions at different parts of their time.

Annie Lennox:

I just wanted to quickly just put in before I forget, which I have a tendency to do.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

We all do as we get older, particularly.

Annie Lennox:

Oh boy, and some, it’s really embarrassing at times. Trauma, that’s what I wanted to say to you. That when you witnessed the things that you’ve seen, Zainab, in Congo, or in former Yugoslavia and all of the places where you’ve witnessed really horrendous things, I think you have to process trauma because it’s traumatic. I mean, I’ve seen some desperate situations, they have never left me. I’m sure everyone that you’ve ever, ever encountered, they never left you, it’s something. Again, we talked at the beginning about something that was hugely transformative in your life, and I would say every encounter that I’ve had where I’ve had to witness something that was not common to my former experience, it was a learning curve, a learning curve. Yeah.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I reach a point now where I am, is I am so deeply, deeply, I mean, I can tear up, grateful for all of this awfulness that I either personally faced or that I witnessed in others, because the witnessing of that helped shape me who I am today, and I am grateful for who I am today. I’m at peace, let’s say, for who I am today. And yet that person would not have been shaped and formed had it not been for all these experiences that were very harsh. And yet honestly, I see it like a line even of all the people who even have hurt me, like a line, and I’m just so deeply grateful for each one of them because they helped me, each cut, each injury, each pain helped me become today, Zainab, arrive to my heart really.

Annie Lennox:

Yes. I mean, it’s very interesting because words are so powerful. And I mean, the things that people said to you, maybe as a younger person, that were hurtful, that you took personally, and you didn’t get, the teachers that were mean or nasty or the punishments and the shaming and all the things. I remember each one and I’m not at your place yet, I’m not at peace with it. That’s just the honest, full disclosure, I’m not. And what happens for me is there’s a certain turmoil in my head, as I wake up each morning, it all comes back, everything, just the thoughts, the thoughts, it’s as if there’s just a bag of negative thoughts in my head. And I have to work on that, I have to really work on that because my tendency is to avoid, my tendency is to displace, to cover up, to just say, “Oh, put it down.” And there it is, it’s just bubbling away. And I think it must be a work in process.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

It is a process.

Annie Lennox:

It comes up, it becomes even more and more, so then you can’t avoid it really, and so how are you going to put it down? My anger at the world is so palpable, all it takes is to get in the car and be as a passenger because I’ve stopped driving, and somebody just, and it’ll take a second, someone here because they drive in the United States where I am, my experience of driving here is like it’s the Wild West and I’m not used to it, and it’s fear that makes me angry, you see. So I get angry because somebody pulled out in front of me and this angry person comes out and then I’m like, but I’m not like this, so where’s that person coming from? And it’s actually, I’ve thought about this deeply, it’s a response to fear-“I’m going to kill you”-oh my God, why am I so full of rage? And I am, I’m really, really angry about, you just have to mention certain politicians and certain situations that have gone on and are going on still, and I’m raging.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

But that’s a healthy emotion. Anger, in my opinion, is a healthy emotion. If we don’t have anger, God will be passive and nothing will change in the world. That anger is like a match, excuse me, it’s like a match that should light our fire. However, we cannot use it to keep the fire going, in my opinion, we have to use it to light our fire of action. But if it’s used, then it can be a rage and rage can consume us, the fire can consume us.

Annie Lennox:

Yes, it is consumption. It does consume you. And that’s another thing, personally right now I’m looking really deeply as to what’s my makeup, why? And it really is unavoidable, I mean, once you start to explore what’s inside and you see it, it’s not a happy space, necessarily, it’s really quite difficult to deal with.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

The only way to deal with it, as I understood from my own experience, is to go through the darkness of my own pain. Through my anger, go through my rage, go through my inadequacy or whatever it is, insecurities, go through it and deconstruct it and see it, and once I see it, then I can actually forgive and let go of it.

Annie Lennox:

I’m just saying, I’ve just got a mountain of stuff.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

So I want to ask you, because despite all the things that you’re sharing, you have handled fame and success with grace and with a level of groundedness. And the reason I’m curious about that, because fame can be a burden and it’s [an] overwhelming feeling, it’s overwhelming, it takes over and most, not most, many, some people-it’s hard to deal with that. But yet when I see your life, when I see you, you’ve handled it with grace and groundedness, it didn’t let you off your center, your state. How did you do that?

Annie Lennox:

Yeah, you’re right, it’s not an easy place to . . . I mean, some people are extroverts and they love attention and they crave it. And for me, it was never that I wanted it, I’m a shy . . . so I never really, as a person, I didn’t want that. I don’t want people following me, I don’t want people recognizing me, I don’t want that. But what I did want was a platform, I wanted to just keep it to something like this is on a stage or this is through a television screen, but then I want to do a cut, cut it off, but it’s not possible, you see, and that is the deal. Because you see, you’ll know this, once the switch is on, it’s not up to you, you don’t always have a say in all of it.

And to be honest, it is a tightrope, and in one moment you could lose all of your reputation. It could happen in a second, any minute anybody could say something, could do something and then you’re in a precarious . . . it’s very strange. So I mean, I’m older now, and certainly, in terms of the best of my musical creativity, I don’t know if it’s the best, but the bulk of my work in music and performance, I think, is mostly done. Maybe there’s more to come, I just don’t know, I keep that open really, but I’m certainly not invested in anymore, I never really was. The fame was not the primary thing, never was.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

And when I think about your journey in life, whether it’s your musical career or whether it is your activism with HIV or global feminism, there’s boldness to it, you’re bold. I love that. You’re unapologetically bold, even in your activism, when you wear that shirt, I am HIV positive, it’s provocative, it is bold, it forces thinking. And so many people are afraid because it’s sort of risk-taking for people, to do something bold is risky and whether people will accept or not. And a lot of people, some maybe doubt that risk or they fear taking that bold step in any part of their life, what if it’s not accepted? How do you deal with that? How do you deal with that doubt, or do you have it even?

Annie Lennox:

So it’s interesting because your perception of me is that I’m bold and I can be, and I very often . . . fools rush in where angels fear to tread, there’s that saying, and I can be impetuous. So I have been impetuous, and I have said things just off the cuff here or there, and they’ve caught me. We’re in an age of social media where anyone can take a picture anywhere, anything can be said, anything could be interpreted, reinterpreted. You can be taken down in an instant. I am less bold than I was, and the reason for that, because I would love to be more bold, but there’s a part of me [that] just wants to rush in. But I am more cautious because, in this age where everybody has a say, and everybody has a means to put somebody down, I tend to not want to get so much into the fray because I see a lot of that energy as just a waste.

Sometimes my immediate reaction, let’s say someone writes something, posts something that is so abhorrent that you want to kind of . . . I’ve got this thing, I want to say something abhorrent back because I could, but now I’m more restrained. I know it’s only going to stoke the fire, so I step back. And I am right now, I am so drained, I am so exhausted, I know that if I have a little break because I haven’t stopped, I was meaning to take a sabbatical and then COVID hit. And then I just like, okay, I need to communicate with people. So I started to really find a way, and it was music that is my balm, music has been like my good friend all along,[in the] simplest of way with my iPhone and little tripod and the light and my piano and what have you, and I found my own track throughout all of this.

So I want to now be more considered than just impulsive. And I want to have a little break if I can. You know those snow scenes that you shake them in the snow, I’ve been like that. I’ve been shaking all along and it’s as if I want to stop. I don’t want to leave the snow scene, I want to be there, but I think like everybody, talk about self-care, I need some self-care.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Well, it’s very important. I wonder, do you think you’ve had a glimpse of that in the nine years that you took off from being in the public, was it that, or were you really busy with the kids?

Annie Lennox:

Well see, I always think of this, one foot on one island and one foot in the other, I never really left. Wow. You’re talking about when I was having kids and they were young?

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, a long time ago. This is why I think it’s bold, it’s like you felt something and you acted on it. So bold, not necessarily, I didn’t think of it as a more aggressive, but courageous. Courageous.

Annie Lennox:

I understand what you’re saying.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Yeah.

Annie Lennox:

I feel things, obviously I feel things and all musicians, all writers, they have something, it’s like they need to express that thing that they’re feeling. And I did realize that I did have a bit of a platform where I’ve never, just wanted to be an entertainer. Entertainment is fine, there’s nothing wrong with that, that’s great. But I always thought that music, for example, music, dance, art, film, this all has potential to change people’s hearts and minds. And it’s not that I want to change people’s hearts and minds, but it’s just more to express something deeper than just like, oh, I’ll just entertain you.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Well, you inspire people’s hearts and inspire my heart and mind, you do, with your words and your feelings.

Annie Lennox:

Passing on inspiration. You see, it’s not that I am inspirational, it’s not that. Inspiration, to me, is a conduit, and if you can capture it in some way, in some form, like I say, in film, book, art, expression, it’s a conduit, and you’re passing this on, that’s how it feels to me. It’s like we’re in this ether, is there such a word as etherical? Make it up-etherical.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

But it’s so beautiful. I mean, we talked about concept of religion and God earlier, and I feel, you know I’m on this spiritual side and it’s very personal, I don’t study with anybody or anything like that, it’s just a personal feeling. And I feel all, all what God wants out of us, and even if you don’t believe in God, oh, well the Divine, all our purpose is as simple as in this earth, regardless of religion or God or Divine, is to give the best out of us, to our society, our community, ourselves, our neighbors, our family, to give the best out of us. And I feel when I hear you, Annie, is you have a gift and you constantly gave the best out of you. And when we do that, then we inspire the others and then the gift gets passed on in different ways, and a million person make your gift into part of their gift as they arise in their gift as well.

Annie Lennox:

Yeah, thank you. Thank you so much, I don’t know what else to say.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

No, no, no, don’t say it.

Annie Lennox:

I don’t know. Okay, I want to talk to you, I want to just go into something, that when you’re young, you really do feel that the world is like there’s this huge horizon in front of you that’s endless, and as soon as you get to that line of the horizon, there’s another horizon. And so now that I’m older, see this horizon, I’m sorry, repeating myself, I can envisage this horizon, anything could happen. Now I crossed the line, I crossed the line and now I’m looking back and that is it. So now for me, it’s that looking, and I know Zainab, because you went through what you say is a near-death experience. Now that is so strong to go through an experience like that and to come out the other side of it going, “This body, this consciousness, I’m still on this earth, I’m still here and it didn’t get me, death didn’t actually . . .”

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Well, it’s so interesting because it’s humbling, it made me more humble because my wanting to stay alive and I was surprised because I actually really, I grew up in war, death was part of my existence in a very clear way. So I was like, okay, but it was humbling to want to stay alive. It was humbling. Every part of my existence became a humbling experience: that I am human being in this earth is a humbling experience. And while before it was like, I was led bit by a brain and “I have to do this” and “I want to change the world” and “I want to help,” I still want to give the best out of me to the world, it’s just more humbling that it could all go like this. It just can go like this.

Annie Lennox:

All go like this.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

And it’s not only our life, our homes, our everything, our material possessions can all go like this.

Annie Lennox:

It will go. It will go. You will leave it.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

That’s so beautiful. I mean, I’m tearing up as I hear you say it because it resonates with my heart. If we know that we are here temporarily, an honorable place, it’s humbling. So how do we honor that existence?

Annie Lennox:

We’re really now in a really strange, precarious place.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Maybe our jobs now, I’m just thinking out loud here with you, and I’m thinking about a friend of mine who believes that what we need to do is generously listen to each other, maybe our job right now is more listening to each other. And she created the foundation called the Vuslat Foundation, which is all about how to generously listen to each other. And her argument is that if we spend the time to look at any situation and generously listen to the other person from their own perspective, we at least understand their logic, not agree, but understand, or may have a point, one point, even if it’s a drop, and she said that drop is enough to create a pathway for a new conversation.

Annie, I’ve taken a lot of your time, but I do have a few quick questions, few quick questions for you, because you mentioned your daughters, I know I’m following Lola’s thriving success, which is so exciting. It’s so beautiful also to witness. If I am to ask you, what would you share to them, to the world, to me, about love? I mean, because you’ve had your journey in love and a different manifestation, because I’m lately exploring the concept of love, not as a structure, not as a room with walls here, but as a molecule or a cell that keeps on shaping itself in a different way. Like these bowls, I don’t know what you talk, but it keeps on shaping itself, it takes different manifestation, and so it’s free form as opposed to structure. But what would you-

Annie Lennox:

A lava lamp.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Yeah, lava lamp, exactly, exactly. That’s exactly, exactly. Thank you, because it’s keeps on shaping itself and it has no structure. What would you tell them about love?

Annie Lennox:

Wow. Well, I did realize that everybody bandies the word love around a lot because I love my hairdresser, I love this food, I love Thai cooking, I love all and I love you, I love you. We can say it so easily and yet we can just drop it in an instant. You can break someone’s heart after you’ve told them that you love them, you can do it the next day or the next instant by saying something else.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

It’s true.

Annie Lennox:

So I do think of it, there’s different types of love and that we haven’t really understood that. And certainly, the people behind in advertising understand about Eros, because they use it to sell. And that is so magnetic, the erotic side of love, romantic love, it seems to drive us. And yet the other side of love, agape, the unconditional side is that aspect that actually if we could get there, if we could get there, a lot of our issues would be solved. Because then that would be about relationship, universal relationship to all, to everything. And I don’t know if you get to this enlightened state, state of Nirvana where all you can see is love, love, love, love, love, this unconditional love. If that was possible, if you could embody it, if your consciousness was just saturated with unconditional love, I mean, that would be bliss.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Totally.

Annie Lennox:

Isn’t it? I mean, I know that when I’ve had anesthetic, and they give you anesthetic and there’s this moment when whoof!-all the cares in the world-morphine does this.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Morphine did that in the hospital, I was like, wow.

Annie Lennox:

All the cares. And so there’s this divine, blissful feeling, spaciousness, and all the problems, they just melt away. And I mean, if only we could feel this, just if we could all feel it, imagine the transformation that could happen.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Completely. Can I tell you a trick I learned from an energy healer, just clear energy? Sometimes we do things, everything I experiment with too.

Annie Lennox:

I’m up for it all.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

And she taught me this trick, really it’s really helpful and I do it every time I’m upset or I’m not in the love. She says, go to your heart and imagine there’s a flower, a pink flower in your heart. And then from there, she said, take your antenna and take it all the way up above earth and go into the galaxies and see earth from that far away. And I swear to you, this always does the trick because it’s like when I see the problem or whatever it is, from that far away, I am all love. I can go there fast now, especially to calm myself if I’m upset at something. So it’s a very easy trick that I learned from an energy healer and I do it all the time to help me to get back to my calmness whenever I lose that. Go to the antenna, all the way up through the galaxies and then see earth from there.

Annie Lennox:

I see things all around me all the time, I see strange things like, oh my goodness, I want to share something with you. So can I share something?

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Please.

Annie Lennox:

Well, this was a beautiful moment I just had two days ago. So there’s a lot of glass in the house where we live, it’s like an indoor/outdoor space, and you can open the windows and birds can fly in. And sometimes they don’t see the glass, they fly in and it’s devastating if they, if they hurt themselves or if they die, in fact that’s even worse. But I saw a bird, a little Finch that had been in collision with the window and was sitting really still, really stunned, blinking. And I went very, very slowly up close because normally a bird will just fly away immediately-any movement, it’ll just fly-and it wasn’t flying away, it was just staying there. And I thought, hmm.

So I managed to get really close and I sat next to it. And I managed to just very, very gently, cup it in my hands for a bit. And what was so beautiful, it got a little shock, and its eyes were blinking. And as I cupped it in my hands, I wanted to create a little haven, like a little nest, and it was blinking and eventually it went a little bit to sleep. So I just sat with it for a while on my lap, and I thought, amazing. We all have this urge, when we see things we want to hold them, don’t we? I had the opportunity to sit with this little bird on my lap and it was such a precious thing. I was hoping that I could restore it, do you know what I mean, like I could calm it down, even though I’m a great big human and it’s probably scary.

I was like, “Okay, I’m going to try to re-energize you.” And very, very slowly, after a while, I just opened my hands, and it realized it could go, and it flew away. And that was a really, really inspirational thing for me, that was beautiful, that was really a connection.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

That was love. For me, that is love, you gave a bird love.

Annie Lennox:

Yeah, I loved the bird. I love the birds.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

It’s so beautiful.

Annie Lennox:

I really don’t like to see them ever hurt because we have windows.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I know, I have the same actually. Yeah, I do. This is a beautiful story. Thank you. I love it actually, because that’s just an intimate connection between two creatures in this one few moments.

Annie Lennox:

Exactly, exactly.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I love you because there’s an awareness and consciousness and the holding of humbleness in your heart, and with the expansiveness of your heart and with your voice and your awareness and your authenticity. I tear up as I just say the words, Annie, thank you from the bottom of my heart, that we are present, you’re present in my life is my blessing, is the greatest blessing. Thank you.

Annie Lennox:

You know I feel the same about you, and I think what a lovely thing that you’re doing, you’re going to have such fun with people that you can really go dig deep and really see something of who they are beyond just the projections.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Absolutely. I’m interested in the internal journey. The external, the world sees it, but the internal is the lessons and the learning. And that’s the aspiration we need to learn, is not to be that, or this, is to be inside our hearts, this or that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Annie Lennox:

Love you to bits.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I really appreciated your time and I hope you get some rest.

Annie Lennox:

Yeah, I’m going to. I’ll get some rest and then I’ll be recharged and then I’ll be onto the next thing. That’s all you can do.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Absolutely, amen.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

And that was the amazing Annie Lennox. Oh my gosh, isn’t she just unbelievably inspiring. You can follow her on Instagram @OfficialAnnieLennox. You can follow me on Instagram @ZainabSalbi. And check out FindCenter @find_center. For more from my conversation with Annie, including our thoughts on the works of arts and the people who move her the most, please go to www.findcenter.com/redefined. And thank you so much for listening to this episode, we’ll be back next week for another conversation about life’s turning points and lessons learned. My guest will be CNN anchor and bestselling author, Don Lemon.

Redefined is produced by me, Zainab Salbi, along with Rob Corso, Casey Khan, and Howie Kahn, at FreeTime Media. Our music is by John Palmer. Special thanks to Neal Goldman, Jenn Tardif, Elijah Townsend, Tara Patterson, Jesse Stormo, and Sarah Weinstein.