Tuesdays with Morrie

“Accept what you are able to do and what you are not able to do.  Accept the past as past, without denying it, or discarding it.  Learn to forgive yourself and to forgive others.” (18)

“Dying is only one thing to be sad over.  Living unhappily is something else.  So many of the people who come to visit me are unhappy.” “I may be dying, but I am surrounded by loving, caring souls.  How many people can say that?” (36)

“Have I told you about the tensions of opposites?  Life is a series of pulls back and forth.  You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else.  Something hurt you, yet you know it shouldn’t.  You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted.” (40)

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.  Let it come in.  We think we don’t deserve love, we think if we let it in we’ll become too soft.  But a wise man named Levine said it right.  He said, ‘Love is the only rational act’.” (52)

“And slowly a discussion begins–as Morrie has wanted all along–about the effect of silence on human relations.  Why are we embarrassed by silence? What comfort do we find in all the noise? I am not bothered by silence.  For all the noise I make with my friends, I am still not comfortable talking about my feelings in front of others–especially not classmates.  I could sit in the quiet hours if that is what the class demanded.” (54) 

“What if today were my last day on earth?” (64)

“Koppel imagined the two men together one day, one unable to speak, the other unable to hear.  What would that be like? We will both hold hands, Morrie said.  And there’ll be a lot of love passing between us.  We’ve had thirty-five years of friendship.  You don’t need speech or hearing to feel that.” (71)

“Am I being the person I want to be?” (81)

“Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” ( 82)

“Say I was divorced, or living alone, or had no children.  This disease–what I’m going through–would be so much harder.  I’m not sure I could do it.  Sure, people would come visit, friends, associates, but it’s not the same as having someone who will not leave.  It’s not the same as having someone whom you know has an eye on you, is watching you the whole time.” (92)

“Do not stop your lives.  Otherwise, this disease will have ruined three of us instead of one.” (93)

Learn to detach.  Don’t cling to things, because everything is impermanent.  Detachment doesn’t mean you don’t let the experience penetrate you.  On the contrary, you let it penetrate you fully.  That’s how you are able to leave it.” (103)

“If you hold back on the emotions–if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them–you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid.  You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief.  You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails.” (104)

“I thought about how often this was needed in everyday life.  How we feel lonely, sometimes to the point of tears, but we don’t let those tears come because we are not supposed to cry.  Or how we feel a surge of love for a partner but we don’t say anything because we’re frozen with the fear of what those words might do to the relationship. 

Morrie’s approach was exactly the opposite.  Turn on the faucet.  Wash yourself with the emotion.  It won’t hurt you.  It will only help.  If you let the fear inside, if you pull it on like a familiar shirt, then you can say to yourself, ‘All right, it’s just fear.  I don’t have to let it control me.  I see if for what it is’. 

Same for loneliness: you let go, let the tears flow, feel it completely–but eventually be able to say, “All right, that was my moment with loneliness.  I’m not afraid of feeling lonely, but now I’m going to put that loneliness aside and know that there are other emotions in the world, and I’m going to experience them as well….Detach..” (105)

“Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.” (133)

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” (174)

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