4.8.17 Tuesdays with Morrie 

I had no expectations when I started this book, I knew it was going to be good, insightful, and encouraging. I picked quotes that I related to through my ALS journey, ones that stood out, and ones that made me think. This one is my favorite:

“Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little community of those you love and who love you.”

Thank YOU for being part of my little community 💜💜💜

  • Looking back, Morrie knew something bad was coming long before that. He knew it the day he gave up dancing.
  • In one of those tests, he sat in a special seat as they zapped him with electrical current—an electric chair, of sorts—and studied his neurological responses.
  • Finally, on a hot, humid day in August 1994, Morrie and his wife, Charlotte, went to the neurologist’s office, and he asked them to sit before he broke the news: Morrie had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Lou Gehrig’s disease, a brutal, unforgiving illness of the neurological system.
  • When they left, the doctor gave them some information on ALS, little pamphlets, as if they were opening a bank account.
  •  the disease took him over, day by day, week by week.
  • He kept tripping, so he purchased a cane. That was the end of his walking free.
  • Why suffer in front of so many people? Stay at home. Get your affairs in order. But the idea of quitting did not occur to Morrie.
  • ALS is like a lit candle: it melts your nerves and leaves your body a pile of wax.
  • Do I wither up and disappear, or do I make the best of my time left? … He would not be ashamed of dying. Instead, he would make death his final project, the center point of his days. Since everyone was going to die, he could be of great value, right?
  • Study me in my slow and patient demise. Watch what happens to me. Learn with me. Morrie would walk that final bridge between life and death, and narrate the trip.
  • He was intent on proving that the word “dying” was not synonymous with “useless.”
  • Instead, 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, like my uncle before me, which I figured was my natural fate.
  • “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”; “Don’t assume that it’s too late to get involved.”
  • His philosophy was that death should not be embarrassing; he was not about to powder its nose.
  • 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 …’
  • This was how I operated, five things at once.
  • “You know, Mitch, now that I’m dying, I’ve become much more interesting to people.”
  • “People see me as a bridge. I’m not as alive as I used to be, but I’m not yet dead. I’m sort of … in-between.”
  • I had become too wrapped up in the in the siren song of my own life. I was busy.
  • his hands working gingerly, as if he were learning to use them for the very first time.
  • “I may be dying, but I am surrounded by loving, caring souls. How many people can say that?”
  • “Love wins. Love always wins.”
  • The way you 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.”
  • Now that I’m suffering, I feel closer to people who suffer than I ever did before.
  • “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”
  • I mourn what I’ve lost. I mourn the slow, insidious way in which I’m dying.
  • “I give myself a good cry if I need it. But then I concentrate on all the good things still in my life.
  • “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.”
  • Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel.
  • “When I have people and friends here, I’m very up. The loving relationships maintain me. “But there are days when I am depressed. Let me not deceive you. I see certain things going and I feel a sense of dread. What am I going to do without my hands? What happens when I can’t speak? Swallowing, I don’t care so much about—so they feed me through a tube, so what? But my voice? My hands? They’re such an essential part of me. I talk with my voice. I gesture with my hands. This is how I give to people.”
  • “Everyone knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it.”
  • “The truth is, Mitch,” he said, “once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”
  • “Too-dayyy … I feeel like … the luckiest maaaan … on the face of the earth …”
  • “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.
  • “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.
  • 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.”
  • I worked because I could control it. I worked because work was sensible and responsive.
  • “I want to die serenely. Peacefully.
  • “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.
  • He saw right to the core of the problem, which was human beings wanting to feel that they mattered.
  • We all yearn in some way to return to those days when we were completely taken care of—unconditional love, unconditional attention.
  • Human touch. At seventy-eight, he was giving as an adult and taking as a child 
  • “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 growth. It’s more than the negative that you’re going to die, it’s also the positive that you understand you’re going to die, and that you live a better life because of it.”
  • But the issue is to accept who you are and revel in that. This is your time to be in your thirties…“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.”
  • This is how you start to get respect, by offering something that you have.
  • Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.
  • Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone.”
  • But giving to other people is what makes me feel alive.
  • 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… you’ll be overwhelmed with what comes back.”
  • (he could still feel pain, even though he could not move them, another one of ALS’s cruel little ironies),
  • And love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.”
  • When Morrie was with you, he was really with you. He looked you straight in the eye, and he listened as if you were the only person in the world.
  • Learning to pay attention? How important could that be? I now know it is more important than almost everything they taught us in college.
  • I would rather put my energies into people.”
  • This much he knew: there would be lots of holding and kissing and talking and laughter and no good-byes left unsaid,
  • “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.”
  • “Your belief in the importance of your marriage.”
  • “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 believed in the inherent good of people.
  • “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.
  • the biggest defect we human beings have is our shortsightedness. We don’t see what we could be. We should be looking at our potential, stretching ourselves into everything we can become.
  • “Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little community of those you love and who love you.”
  • “For me, Ted, living means I can be responsive to the other person. It means I can show my emotions and my feelings.
  • “Ted, this disease is knocking at my spirit. But it will not get my spirit. It’ll get my body.
  • Make peace. You need to make peace with yourself and everyone around you.”
  • But Morrie was able to joke about his body now. The closer he got to the end, the more he saw it as a mere shell, a container of the soul. It was withering to useless skin and bones anyhow, which made it easier to let go.
  • “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.”
  • “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.”
  • “Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
  • I tell everyone I know to carry on with the life they know—don’t ruin it because I am dying.”
  • Love is when you are as concerned about someone else’s situation as you are about your own.
  • He never cared for sleeping, not when there were people he could talk with.
  • Sometimes, when you’re losing someone, you hang on to whatever tradition you can.

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