There are books that make a deep impact on your mind. For me one of that books is “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom. It’s autobiographical and tells the story about the relationship between the author and his sociology professor, who suffers from ALS – a terminal neurological disease. In his dying condition Professor Morrie and Mitch work on their last thesis together:
How do you live a meaningful life?
I remember well how I felt when reading this book for the first time:
I cried. I laughed. I felt it all.
And I wanted to absorb everything Morrie said.
I was living and working at a hostel in Puerto Rico in Viejo San Juan in the Caribbean. At the hostel, we had a “shared library”, which means that guests could leave and take books from there. I really loved the idea of “travelling books” and also left a bunch of my books there.. It’s so nice to think of the books as travellers as well, making their way through the world and touching various people. So that is how I found this little gift of a book..someone left it there for me to find.
Still I find myself re-reading this book, whenever I feel kind of lost in life.
Here are some of the quotes, which I dearly love and have had a deep impact on how I see life:
About feeling fully + detachment
“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 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.
On you – if it’s Tuesday.
Because we’re Tuesday people.”
“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.”
“Wash yourself with 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.”
“Detach,” Morrie said again.
about feeling unhappy
“Dying is only one thing to be sad over, Mitch. Living unhappily is something else.”
“The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves.
And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it. Create your own.”
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.”
Sounds like a wrestling match, I say. “A wrestling match.” He laughs. “Yes, you could describe life that way.”
“Which side wins?”
He smiles at me, the crinkled eyes, the crooked teeth.
“Love wins. Love always wins.”
“The most important thing in life is to
learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”
His voice dropped to a whisper.
“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.”
He repeated it carefully, pausing for effect.
“Love is the only rational act.”
“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.”
“Still: there are a few rules I know to be true about love:
If you do not 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.”
“Love each other or perish.”
“Invest in the human family.
Invest in people.
Build a little community of those
you love and who love you.”
“Everyone knows they’re going to die,” he said again, “but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.” So we kid ourselves about death, I said.
“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.”
How can you ever be prepared to die?
“Do what the budhists 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?”
“Learn how to die, and you learn how to live.”
“Then you will not forget me after I’m gone. Think of my voice and I’ll be there.”
“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.“
about living a meaningful life
“Devote yourself to loving others,
devote yourself to your community around you,
and devote yourself to creating something
that gives you purpose and meaning.”
“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.
When you do,
you won’t be dissatisfied,
you won’t be envious,
you won’t be longing for sb else’s things.
On the contrary, you’ll be overwhelmed with what comes back.”
“I believe in being fully present.
That means you should be with the person you’re with.”
“What’s wrong with being number two?”