Quotes from Tuesdays With Morrie

Have you found someone to share your heart with?

Are you at peace with yourself?

Are you trying to be as human as you can be?

Over the years, I had taken labor as my companion, and had moved everything else to the side.

So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half asleep, even with they are busy doing things they think are important. This is because they are chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning in your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.

Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them, too … even when you’re in the dark. Even when you’re falling.

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops – Henry Adams

Everyone knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.

To know you are going to die, and be prepared for it at any time … that way you can actually become more involved in your life while living.

How can you ever be prepared to die? ‘Do what the Buddhist do. Every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, ‘Is this the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?’

Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.

I don’t want to leave the world in a state of fright. I want to know what’s happening, accept it, get to a peaceful place, and let go.

Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn – Mahatma Gandhi.

As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on .. in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.

“What I am doing now is detaching myself from the experience.”

Detaching yourself?

“Yes. Detaching myself. And this is important .. not just for someone like me, who is dying, but for someone like you, who is perfectly healthy. Learn to detach.”

“You know what Buddhists say? Don’t cling to things, because everything is impermanent.”

But wait, I said, aren’t you always talking about experiencing life? All the good emotions, all the bad ones?

“Yes.”

Well, how can you do that if you are detached?

“Ah. You’re thinking. But 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.”

I’m lost.

“Take any emotion .. love for a woman, or grief for a loved one, or what I’m going through, fear and pain from a deadly illness. 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.”

“But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head, even, you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only then can you say, ‘All right. I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment.’”

“I know you think this is just about dying, but it’s like I keep telling you. When you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

As my visits with Morrie go on, I begin to read about death, how different cultures view the final passage. There is a tribe in the North American Arctic, for example, who believe that all things on earth have a soul that exists in a miniature form of the body that holds it … so that a deer has a tiny deer inside it, and a man has a tiny man inside him. When the large being dies, that tiny form lives on. It can slide into something being born nearby, or it is can go to a temporary resting place in the sky, in the belly of the great feminine spirit, where it waits until the Moon can send it back to earth.

Sometimes, they say, the moon is so busy with the new souls of the worlds, that it disappears from the sky. That is why we have moonless nights. But in the end, the moon always returns, as do we all.

That is what they believe.

Giving to other people is what makes me feel alive. Not my car or my house. Not what I look like in the mirror. When I give my time, when I can make someone smile after they were feeling sad, it’s as close to healthy as I ever feel.

Do the kinds of things that come from the heart. When you do, you won’t be dissatisfied, you won’t be envious, you won’t be longing for somebody else’s things. On the contrary, you’ll be overwhelmed with what comes back.

Death ends life, not a relationship.

I heard a nice little story the other day (Morrie says). The story is about a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He’s enjoying the wind and the fresh air .. until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore. “My God, this is terrible,” the wave says, “Look what’s going to happen to me!” Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave looking grim and it says to him, “Why do you look so sad?” The first wave says, “You don’t understand! We’re all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn’t it terrible?” The second wave says, “No, you don’t understand. You’re not a wave. You’re part of the ocean.”

Part of the ocean …. part of the ocean.

———-

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