[Quotes] Tuesdays With Morrie
“Do I wither up and disappear, or do I make the best of my time left?” (Morrie)
“Listen, I have to pee. Would you mind helping? Are you okay with that?” (Morrie)
“He (Mitch) told his friends that if they really wanted to help him, they would treat him not with sympathy but with visits, phone calls, a sharing of their problems – the way they had always shared their problems..” (Mitch)
“What a waste. All those people saying all those wonderful things, and Irv never got to hear any of it.” (Morrie)
“I buried myself in accomplishments, because with accomplishments, I believed I could control things, I could squeeze in every last piece of happiness before I got sick and died..” (Mitch)
“Accept what you are able to do and what you are not able to do.” (Morrie)
“Accept the past as past, without denying it or discarding it.” (Morrie)
“Learn to forgive yourself and to forgive others.” (Morrie)
“Don’t assume that it’s too late to get involved.” (Morrie)
“His (Morrie) philosophy was that death should not be embarrassing.” (Mitch)
“When all this started, I asked myself, ‘Am I going to withdraw from the world, like most people do, or am I going to live?’ I decided I’m going to live – or at least try to live – the way I want, with dignity, with courage, with humor, with composure. There are some mornings when I cry and cry and mourn for myself. Some mornings, I’m so angry and bitter. But it doesn’t last too long. Then I get up and say, ‘I want to live..’ So far, I’ve been able to do it. Will I be able to continue? I don’t know. But I’m betting on myself that I will.” (Morrie)
“I hope that one day you will think of me as your friend.” (Morrie)
“All right, I’ll be your coach. And you can be my player. You can play all the lovely parts of life that I’m too old for now.” (Morrie)
“You know, Mitch, now that I’m dying, I’ve become much more interesting to people.” (Morrie)
“I had no good excuse for this, except the one that everyone these days seem to have. I had become too wrapped up in the siren song of my own life. I was busy.” (Mitch)
“Have you found someone to share your heart with? Are you giving to your community? Are you at peace with yourself? Are you trying to be as human as you can be?” (Morrie)
“Dying is only one thing to be sad over, Mitch. Living unhappily is something else. So many of the people who come to visit me are unhappy.” (Morrie)
“Well, for one thing, the culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We’re teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it. Create your own. Most people can’t do it. They’re more unhappy than me – even in my current condition. I may be dying, but I am surrounded by loving, caring souls. How many people can say that?” (Morrie)
“Have I told you about the tension 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 hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted. A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle.” (Morrie)
“Love wins. Love always wins.” (Morrie)
“Why did we bother with all the distractions we did?” (Mitch)
“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way to get meaning into 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.” (Morrie)
“He (Morrie) warns me that money is not the most important thing, contrary to the popular view on campus. He tells me I need to be ‘fully human’. He speaks of the alienation of youth and the need for ‘connectedness’ with the society around me. (Mitch)
Morrie : What do you want to be when you get out of college?
Mitch : I want to be a musician. Piano player.
Morrie : Wonderful, but that’s a hard life
Mitch : Yeah.
Morrie : A lot of sharks.
Mitch : That’s what I hear.
Morrie : Still, if you really want it, then you’ll make your dream happen.
Morrie : Do you remember when I told Ted Koppel that pretty soon someone was gonna have to wipe my ass?
Mitch : You don’t forget a moment like that.
Morrie : Well, I think that day is coming. That one bothers me.
Mitch : Why?
Morrie : Because it’s the ultimate sign of dependency. Someone wiping your bottom. But I’m working on it. I’m trying to enjoy the process.
Mitch : Enjoy it?
Morrie : Yes. After all, I get to be a baby one more time.
Mitch : That’s a unique way of looking at it
Morrie : Well, I have to look at life uniquely now. Let’s face it. I can’t go shopping, I can’t take care of the bank accounts, I can’t take out the garbage. But I can sit here with my dwindling days and look at what I think is important in life. I have both time – and the reason – to do that.
“Now that I’m suffering, I feel closer to people who suffer than I ever did before.” (Morrie)
Morrie : This is okay with you, isn’t it? Men crying?
Mitch : Sure.
Morrie : Ah, Mitch, I’m gonna loosen you up. One day, I’m gonna show you it’s okay to cry.
Morrie : Mitch, you asked about caring for people I don’t even know. But can I tell you the one thing I’m learning most with this disease?
Mitch : What’s that?
Morrie : 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.’ ” (Morrie)
“Love is the only rational act.” (Morrie)
Morrie : Mitch, you remind me of someone I knew who also liked to keep things to himself when he was younger.
Mitch : Who?
Morrie : Me.
“Sometimes, in the mornings, that’s when I mourn. I feel around my body, I move my fingers and my hands – whatever I can still move – and I mourn what I’ve lost. I mourn the slow, insidious way in which I’m dying. But then I stop mourning. I give myself a good cry if I need it. But then I concentrate on all the good things still in my life. On the people who are coming to see me. On the stories I’m going to hear.” (Morrie)
“Mitch, I don’t allow myself any more self-pity than that. A little each morning, a few tears, and that’s all.” (Morrie)
“It’s only horrible if you see it that way. It’s horrible to watch my body slowly wilt away to nothing. But it’s also wonderful because of all the time I get to say good-bye. Not everyone is so lucky.” (Morrie)
“You see, you closed your eyes. That was the difference. 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.” (Morrie)
“Mitch, you don’t understand. I want to tell you about my life. I want to tell you before I can’t tell you anymore. I want someone to hear my story. Will you?” (Morrie)
“It’s what everyone worries about, isn’t it? What if today were my last day on earth? Mitch, the culture doesn’t encourage you to think about such things until you’re about to die. We’re so wrapped up with egotistical things, career, family, having enough money, meeting the mortgage, getting a new car, fixing the radiator when it break – we’re involved in trillions of little acts just to keep going. So we don’t get into the habit of standing back and looking at our lives and saying, Is this all? Is this all I want? Is something missing? You need someone to probe you in that direction. It won’t just happen automatically.” (Morrie)
“We all need teachers in our lives.” (Mitch)
“Ask me anything.” (Morrie)
Mitch’s list of things to ask to Morrie:
- A Meaningful Life
“Part of me is scared of leaving school. Part of me wants to go desperately. Tension of opposites. I watch Morrie as he reads my thesis, and wonder what the big world will be like out there.” (Mitch)
“We will hold hands, and there’ll be a lot of love passing between us. Ted, we’ve had thirty-five years of friendship. You don’t need speech or hearing to feel that.” (Morrie)
“I lost my mother when I was a child.. and it was quite a blow to me.. I wish I’d had a group like yours where I would have been able to talk about my sorrows. I would have joined your group because.. because I was so lonely..” (Morrie)
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” (Quoted: Henry Adams)
Morrie : Everybody knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.
Mitch : So we kid ourselves about death.
Morrie : Yes. But there’s a better approach. To know you’re going to die, and to be prepared for it at any time. That’s better. That way you can actually be more involved in your life while you’re living.
Mitch : How can you ever be prepared to die?
Morrie : Do what the Buddhists do. Every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, ‘Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?’
Morrie : Is today the day I die?
“Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” (Morrie)
Mitch : Everyone knows someone who has died. Why is it so hard to think about dying?
Morrie : Because most of us all walk around as if we’re sleepwalking. We really don’t experience the world fully, because we’re half-asleep, doing things we automatically think we have to do.
Mitch : And facing death changes all that?
Morrie : Oh, yes. You strip away all that stuff and you focus on the essentials. When you realize you are going to die, you see everything much differently. Learn how to die, and you learn how to live.
“Well, the truth is, if you really listen to that bird on your shoulder, if you accept that you can die at any time – then you might not be as ambitious as you are. The things you spend so much time on – all this work you do – might not seem as important. You might have to make room for some more spiritual things.” (Morrie)
“Mitch, even I don’t know what ‘spiritual development’ really means. But I do know we’re deficient in some way. We are too involved in materialistic things, and they don’t satisfy us. The loving relationships we have, the universe around us, we take these things for granted.” (Morrie)
“The fact is, there is no foundation, no secure ground, upon which people may stand today if it isn’t the family. It’s become quite clear to me as I’ve been sick. If you don’t have the support and love and caring and concern that you get from a family, you don’t have much at all. Love is so supremely important. As our great Auden said, ‘Love each other or perish.’ ”. (Morrie)
“Love each other or perish. It’s good, no? And it’s so true. Without love, we are birds with broken wings.” (Morrie)
“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 whom you know has an eye on you, is watching you the whole time. this is part of what a family is about, not just love, but letting others know there’s someone who is watching out for them. It’s what I missed so much when my mother died – what I call your ‘spiritual security’ – knowing that your family will be there watching out for you. Nothing else will give you that. Not money. Not fame. Not work.” (Morrie)
“Do not stop your lives.” (Morrie)
Morrie : Whenever people ask me about having children or not having children, I never tell them what to do. I simply say, ‘There is no experience like having children.’ That’s all. There is no substitute for it. You cannot do it with a friend. You cannot do it with a lover. If you want the experience of having complete responsibility for another human being, and to learn how to love and bond in the deepest way, then you should have children.
Mitch : So would you do it again?
Morrie : Would I do it again? Mitch, I would not have missed that experience for anything. Even though.. even though there is a painful price to pay.
Mitch : Because you’ll be leaving them.
Morrie : Because I’ll be leaving them soon.
“He grew up the way many youngest children grow up, pampered, adored, and inwardly tortured.” (Mitch)
Morrie : What I’m doing now, is detaching myself from the experience.
Mitch : Detaching yourself?
Morrie : 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 the Buddhists say? Don’t cling to things, because everything is impermanent.
Mitch : But wait. Aren’t you always talking about experiencing life? All the good emotions, all the bad ones?
Morrie : Yes.
Mitch : Well, how can you do that if you’re detached?
Morrie : Ah. You’re thinking, Mitch. 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.
Mitch : I’m lost.
Morrie : 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 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 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 it 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.” (Mitch)
“I know how I want to die. I want to die serenely. Peacefully. Not like what just happened. And this is where detachment comes in. If I die in the middle of coughing spell like I just had, I need to be able to detach from the horror, I need to say, ‘This is my moment.’ 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. Do you understand?” (Morrie)
“Mitch, it’s funny. I’m an independent person, so my inclination was to fight all of this – being helped from the car, having someone else dress me. I felt a little ashamed, because our culture tells us we should be ashamed if we can’t wipe our own behind. But then I figured, ‘Forget what the culture says, I have ignored the culture much of my life. I am not going to be ashamed. What’s the big deal?’ And you know what? The strangest things. I began to enjoy my dependency. Now I enjoy when they turn me over on my side and rub cream on my behind so I don’t get sores. Or when they wipe my bow, or they massage my legs. I revel in it. I close my eyes and soak it up. And it seems very familiar to me. It’s like going back to being a child again. Someone to bathe you. Someone to lift you. Someone to wipe you. We all know how to be a child. It’s inside all of us. For me, it’s just remembering how to enjoy it. The truth is, when our mothers held us, rocked us, stroked our heads – none of us ever got enough of that. We all yearn in some way to return to those days when we were completely taken care of – unconditional love, unconditional attention. Most of us didn’t get enough. I know I didn’t.” (Morrie)
Morrie : All this emphasis on youth – I don’t buy it. Listen, I know what a misery being young can be, so don’t tell me it’s so great. All these kids who came to me with their struggles, their strife, their feelings of inadequacy, their sense that life was miserable, so bad they wanted to kill themselves.. And in addition to all the miseries, the young are not wise. They have very little understanding about life. Who wants to live every day when you don’t know what’s going on? When people are manipulation you, telling you to but this perfume and you’ll be beautiful, or this pair of jeans and you’ll be sexy – and you believe them! It’s such nonsense.
Mitch : Weren’t you afraid to grow old?
Morrie : Mitch, I embrace aging.
Mitch : Embrace it?
Morrie : It’s very simple. As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed at twenty-two, you’d always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, you know. It’s more than the negative that you’re going to die, it’s also the positive that you live a better life because of it.
Mitch : Yes. But if aging were so valuable, why do people always say, ‘Oh if I were young again.’ You never hear people say, ‘I wish I were sixty-five.’
Morrie : You know what that reflects? Unsatisfied lives. Unfulfilled lives. Lives that haven’t found meaning. Because if you’ve found meaning in your life, you don’t want to go back. You want to go forward. You want to see more, do more. You can’t wait until sixty-five. Listen. You should know something. All younger people should know something. If you’re always battling against getting older, you’re always going to be unhappy, because it will happen anyhow. And Mitch? The fact is, you are going to die eventually. It won’t matter what you tell yourself. But hopefully, not for a long, long time.
“Mitch, it is impossible for the old not to envy the young. But the issue is to accept who you are and revel in that. This is your time to be in your thirties. I had my time to be in my thirties, and now is my time to be seventy-eight. You have to find what’s good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now. Looking back makes you competitive. And, age is not a competitive issue. The truth is, part of me is every age. I’m a three-year-old, I’m a five-year-old, I’m a thirty-seven-year-old, I’m a fifty-year-old. I’ve been through all of them, and I know what it’s like. I delight in being a child when it’s appropriate to be a child. I delight in being a wise old man when it’s appropriate to be a wise old man. Think of all I can be! I am every age up to my own. Do you understand? How can I be envious of where you are – when I’ve been there myself?” (Morrie)
“It’s all part of the same problem, Mitch. We put our values in the wrong things. And it leads to very disillusioned lives.” (Morrie)
“We’ve got a form of brainwashing going on in our country. Do you know how they brainwash people? They repeat something over and over. And that’s what we do in this country. Owning things is good. More money is good. More property is good. More commercialism is good. More is good. More is good. We repeat it – and have it repeated to us – over and over until nobody bothers to even think otherwise. The average person is so fogged up by all this, he has no perspective on what’s really important anymore. Wherever I went in my life, I met people wanting to gobble up something new. Gobble up a new car. Gobble up a new piece of property. Gobble up the latest toy. And then they wanted to tell you about it. ‘Guess what I got? Guess what I got?’ You know how I always interpreted that? These were people so hungry for love that they were accepting substitutes. They were embracing material things and expecting a sort of hug back. But it never works. You can’t substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship. Money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness. I can tell you, as I’m sitting here dying, when you most need it, neither money nor power will give you the feeling you’re looking for, no matter how much of them you have.” (Morrie)
“There’s a big confusion in this country over what we want versus what we need. You need food, you want a chocolate sundae. You have to be honest with yourself. You don’t need the latest sports car, you don’t need the biggest house. The truth is, you don’t get satisfaction from those things. You know what really gives you satisfaction? Offering others what you have to give. I don’t mean money, Mitch. I mean your time. Your concern. Your storytelling. It’s not so hard. There’s a senior center that opened near here. Dozens of elderly people come there every day. If you’re a young man or young woman and have a skill, you are asked to come and teach it. Say you know computers. You come there and teach them computers. You are very welcome there. And they are very grateful. This is how you start to get respect, by offering something that you have. There are plenty of places to do this. You don’t need to have a big talent. There are lonely people in hospitals and shelters who only want some companionship. You play cards with a lonely older man and you find new respect for yourself, because you are needed. Remember what I said about finding a meaningful life? I wrote it down, but now I can recite it: Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning. You notice, there’s nothing in there about a salary.”(Morrie)
“Mitch. If you’re trying to show off for people at the top, forget it. They will look down at you anyhow. And if you’re trying to show off for people at the bottom, forget it. They will only envy you. Status will get you nowhere. Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone. I’m dying, right? Why do you think it’s so important for me to hear other people’s problems? Don’t I have enough pain and suffering of my own? Of course I do. But 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.” (Morrie)
“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” (Quoted: Mahatma Gandhi)
“When you’re in bed, you’re dead.” (Morrie)
“Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.” (Morrie)
“I believe in being fully present. That means you should be with the person you’re with. When I’m talking to you now, Mitch, I try to keep focused only on what is going on between us. I am not thinking about something we said last week. I am not thinking of what’s coming up this Friday. I am not thinking about doing another Koppel show, or about what medications I’m taking. I am talking to you. I am thinking about you.” (Morrie)
“Morrie motioned for my hand, and as I gave it to him, I felt a surge of guilt. Here was a man who, if he wanted, could spend every waking moment in self-pity, feeling his body for decay, counting his breaths. So many people with far smaller problems are so self-absorbed, their eyes glaze over if you speak for more than thirty seconds. They already have something else in mind – a friend to call, a fax to send, a lover they’re daydreaming about. They only snap back to full attention when you finish talking, at which point they say “Uh-huh” or “Yeah, really” and fake their way back to the moment.” (Mitch)
Morrie : Part of the problem, Mitch is that everyone is in such a hurry. People haven’t found meaning in their lives, so they’re running all the time looking for it. They think the next car, the next house, the next job. Then they find those things are empty, too, and they keep running.
Mitch : Once you start running, it’s hard to slow yourself down.
Morrie : Not so hard. Do you know what I do? When someone wants to get ahead of me in traffic- when I used to be able to drive – I would raise my hand… I would raise my hand, as if I was going to make a negative gesture, and then I would wave and smile. Instead of giving them the finger, you let them go, and you smile. You know what? A lot of times they smiled back. The truth is, I don’t have to be in that much of a hurry with my car. I would rather put my energies into people.
“Well, I feel sorry for your generation. In this culture, it’s so important to find a loving relationship with someone because so much of the culture does not give you that. But the poor kids today, either they’re too selfish to take part in a real loving relationship, or they rush into marriage and then six months later, they get divorced. They don’t know what they want in a partner. They don’t know who they are themselves – so how can they know who they’re marrying. It’s sad, because a loved one is so important. You realize that, especially when you’re in a time like I am, when you’re not doing so well. Friends are great, but friends are not going to be here on a night when you’re coughing and can’t sleep and someone has to sit up all night with you, comfort you, try to be helpful.” (Morrie)
“I’ve learned this much about marriage. You get tested. You find out who you are, who the other person is, and how you accommodate or don’t.” (Morrie)
Mitch : Is there some kind of rule to know if a marriage is going to work?
Morrie : Things are not that simple, Mitch.
Mitch : I know.
Morrie : Still, there are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage. If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike. And the biggest one of those values, Mitch?”
Mitch : Yes?
Morrie : Your belief in the importance of your marriage.
“Personally, I think marriage is a very important thing to do, and you’re missing a hell of a lot if you don’t try it.” (Morrie)
“People are only mean when they’re threatened, and that’s what our culture does. That’s what our economy does. Even people who have jobs in our economy are threatened, because they worry about losing them. And when you get threatened, you start looking out only for yourself. You start making money a god. It is all part of this culture. Which is why I don’t buy into it.” (Morrie)
“Here’s what I mean by building your own little subculture. I don’t mean you disregard every rule of your community. I don’t go around naked, for example. I don’t run through red light. The little things, I can obey. But the big things – how we think, what we value – those you must choose yourself. You can’t let anyone – or any society – determine those for you. Take my condition. The things I am supposed to be embarrassed about now – not being able to walk, not being able to wipe my ass, waking up some morning wanting to cry – there is nothing innately embarrassing or shaming about them. It’s the same for women not being thing enough, or men not being rich enough. It’s just what our culture would have you believe. Don’t believe it.” (Morrie)
“Every society has its own problems. The way to do it, I think, isn’t to run away. You have to work at creating your own culture. Look, no matter where you live, the biggest defect we human beings have is our short sightedness. We don’t see what we could be. We should be looking at our potential, stretching ourselves into everything we can become. But if you’re surrounded by people who say ‘I want mine now,’ you end up with a few people with everything and a military to keep the poor ones from rising up and stealing it.” (Morrie)
“The problem, Mitch, is that we don’t believe we are much alike as we are. Whites and blacks, Catholics and Protestants, men and women. If we saw each other as more alike, we might be very eager to join in on big human family in this world, and to care about that family the way we care about our own. But believe me, when you are dying, you see it is true. We all have the same beginning – birth – and we all have the same end – death. So how different can we be?” (Morrie)
“Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little community of those you love and who love you.” (Morrie)
“In the beginning of life, when we are infants, we need others to survive, right? And at the end of life, when you get like me, you need others to survive, right? But here’s the secret: in between, we need others as well.” (Morrie)
“What’s wrong with being number two?” (Morrie)
“For me, Ted, living means I can be responsive to the other person. It means I can show my emotions and my feelings. Talk to them, Feel with them.. When that is gone, Morrie is gone.” (Morrie)
“Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.” (Morrie)
“Be compassionate, and take responsibility for each other. If we only learned those lessons, the world would be so much better a place. Love each other or die.” (Morrie)
“Ted, this disease is knocking at my spirit. But it will not get my spirit. It’ll get my body. It will not get my spirit.” (Morrie)
“Forgive yourself before you die. Then forgive others.” (Morrie)
“There is no point in keeping vengeance or stubbornness. These things.. these things I so regret in my life. Pride. Vanity. Why do we do the things we do?” (Morrie)
“Tears are okay.” (Morrie)
“It’s not just other people we need to forgive, Mitch. We also need to forgive ourselves. Yes. For all the things we didn’t do. All the things we should have done. You can’t get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened. That doesn’t help you when you get to where I am. I always wished I had done more with my work; I wished I had written more books. I used to beat myself up over it. Now I see that never did any good. Make peace. You need to make peace with yourself and everyone around you.” (Morrie)
“Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Don’t wait, Mitch. Not everyone gets the time I’m getting. Not everyone is as lucky.” (Morrie)
“I mourn my dwindling time, but I cherish the chance it gives me to make things right.” (Morrie)
“If I could have had another son, I would have liked it to be you.” (Morrie)
“I’ll give you what I can. Don’t I always?” (Morrie)
“Tell you what. After I’m dead, you talk. And I’ll listen.” (Morrie)
“It’s not contagious, you know. Death is as natural as life. It’s part of the deal we made.” (Morrie)
Morrie : Mitch, it was a most incredible feeling. The sensation of accepting what was happening, being at peace. I was thinking about a dream I had last week, where I was crossing a bridge into something unknown. Being ready to move on to whatever is next.
Mitch : But you didn’t.
Morrie : No, I didn’t. But I felt that I could. Do you understand? That’s what we’re all looking for. A certain peace with the idea of dying. If we know, in the end, that we can ultimately have that peace with dying, then we can finally do the really hard thing.
Mitch : Which is?
Morrie : Make peace with living.
“It’s natural to die. The fact that we make such a big hullabaloo over it is all because we don’t see ourselves as part of nature. We think because we’re human we’re something above nature. We’re not. Everything that gets born, dies. All right, now here’s the payoff. Here is how we are different from these wonderful plants and animals. 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.” (Morrie)
“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” (Morrie)
Morrie : No way I could go back. I am a different self now. I’m different in my attitudes. I’m different appreciating my body, which I didn’t do fully before. I’m different in terms of trying to grapple with the big questions, the ultimate questions, you can’t turn away from them.
Mitch : And which are the important questions?
Morrie : As I see it, they have to do with love, responsibility, spirituality, awareness. And if I were healthy today, those would still be on my issues. They should have been all along.
“After all these months, lying there, unable to move a leg or a foot – how could he find perfection in such an average day? Then I realized this was the whole point.” (Mitch)
Morrie : Mitch, I know it hurts when you can’t be with someone you love. But you need to be at peace with his desires. Maybe he doesn’t want you interrupting your life. Maybe he can’t deal with that burden. I tell everyone I know to carry on with the life they know – don’t ruin it because I am dying.
Mitch : But he’s my brother.
Morrie : I know. That’s why it hurts.
Mitch : Why doesn’t he want to see me?
Morrie : There is no formula to relationships. They have to be negotiated in loving ways, with room for both parties, what they want and what they need, what they can do and what their life is like. In business, people negotiate to win. They negotiate to get what they want. Maybe you’re too used to that. Love is different. Love is when you are as concerned about someone else’s situation as you are about your own. You’ve had these special times with your brother and you no longer have what you had with him. You want them back. You never want them to stop. But that’s part of being human. Stop, renew, stop, renew.
Morrie : You’ll find a way back to your brother.
Mitch : How do you know?
Morrie : You found me. Didn’t you?
“You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean.” (Morrie’s Story)
“Sometimes, when you’re losing someone, you hang on to whatever tradition you can.” (Mitch)
“None of us can undo what we’ve done, or relive a life already recorded. But if Professor Morris Schwartz taught me anything at all, it was this: there is no such thing as “too late” in life. He was changing until the day he said good-bye.” (Mitch)
“Have you ever really had a teacher? One who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom, could be polished to be a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back. Sometimes it is only in your head. Sometimes it is right alongside their beds. The last class of my old professor’s life took place once a week, in his home, by a window in his study where he could watch a small hibiscus plant shed its pink flowers. The class met on Tuesdays. No books were required. The subject was the meaning of life. It was taught from experience. The teaching goes on.” (Mitch)