Okay. So this blog is simply a compilation of excerpts from the book Tuesdays with Morrie.
It is an amazing book that I would recommend to everyone I know. It’s a very easy read. Short book, with short chapters. But even though it may not be filled with pages, it is filled with wisdom.
It’s simply the story of an old college professor who is diagnosed with ALS, and the conversations he has with an old student of his.
The following are some excerpts from the book that I particularly enjoyed, and that spoke to me. I hope they speak to you also. But if you do read the book, I’m sure you will find many others that speak directly to you.
So here we go!
“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 care and concern that you get from a family, you don’t have much at all. Love is so supremely important. As our great poet Auden said “Love each other or perish”
“Without love, we are birds with broken wings”
“This is what a family is about, not just love, but letting others know there is someone who is watching out for them. nothing else will give you that, not money, not fame.”
“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.”
“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'”.
“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”
“Aging is not just decay you know. its growth. its more than the negative that you’re going to die, it’s also the positive that you know you are going to die, and that you live a better life because of it.”
“but if aging were so valuable, why do people say ‘oh if I were young again’. you know what the 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.”
“if you’re always battling against getting older, you’re always going to be unhappy because it will happen anyhow.”
“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 everyday when you don’t know what’s going on. when people are manipulating you, telling you to buy…”
“As you grow you learn more. if you stayed at 22 you’d always be as ignorant as you were at 22. aging is not just decay”
“you have to find what’s good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now. looking back makes you competitive.”
“it is impossible for the old not to envy the young. but the issue is to accept who you are and revel in that.”
“how can I be envious of where you are, when I’ve been there myself.”
“I can tell you, as I sit 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”
“these people were 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.”
“…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… I mean your time. your concern. your storytelling.”
“if you’re trying to show off for people at the top, forget it. they will look down on 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.”
“..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 saw the inherent good in people. but he also saw what they could become. ‘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.'”
“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 lights. the little things I can obey. but the big things – how we think, what we value – those you must choose for 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 mornings wanting to cry – there is nothing innately embarrassing or shaming about them. …it’s the same for women not being thin enough or men not being rich enough. it’s just what our culture would have us believe. don’t believe it.”
“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.”
“invest in the human family. invest in people. build a little community of those you love and who love you.”
“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 them as well.”
“don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long”
“there is no point in keeping vengeance or stubbornness. these things I so regret in my life. pride. vanity.”
“forgive yourself. forgive others. don’t wait…not everyone gets the time I’m getting. not everyone is as lucky.”
“the tension of opposites…things pulling in different directions…I mourn my dwindling time, but i cherish the chance it gives me to makes things right.”
“as long as we can love each other, and remember the feelings 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. …death ends a life, not a relationship.”
“that’s the thing you see. once you get your fingers on the important questions, you can’t turn away from them. (which are the important questions?) as I see it, they have to do with love, responsibility, spirituality, awareness. and if I were healthy today, those would still be my issues. they should have been all along.”
“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.”
Italics and bold have been added by me. Those are some of my favorite bits, the part that stood out the most to me.
The book is great.
So even if you don’t get around to reading it, hopefully I’ve shared some of the best parts with you.