I’ve always loved this book, and I find myself re-reading it over and over again. I thought I’d share some awesome quotes that I hold to my heart:
Believe what you don’t 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.” – p.61
“What if today were my last day on earth? … 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 breaks – 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 just won’t happen automatically.”
‘I knew what he was saying. We all need teachers in our lives.’ – p.65
Preparing for Death
“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 our life while you’re living.”
How can you ever be prepared to die?
“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?’”
“once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” – p.81
“What I’m doing now is detaching myself from the experience.”
“Yes. Detaching yourself. 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.”
But wait, I said. Aren’t you always talking about experiencing life? All the good emotions, all the bad ones?
Well, how can you do that if you’re detached?”
“… 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.
Take any emotion – love for a woman, or grief for a loved one…. 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. … I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment.”
“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.” – p.104
[Morrie worked at a mental hospital, describing his experience with a patient]
One of the patients, a middle-aged woman, came out of her room every day and lay facedown on the tile floor, stayed there for hours, as doctors and nurses stepped around her. Morrie watched in horror. He took notes, which is what he was there to do. Every day, she did the same thing [on the floor, ignoring everyone]. [Morrie] began to sit on the floor with her, even lay down alongside her, trying to draw her out of her misery. Eventually, he got her to sit up and even return to her room. What she mostly wanted, he learned, was the same thing many people want – someone to notice she was there.
Morrie observed that most of the patients there had been rejected and ignored in their lives, made to feel that they didn’t exist. They also missed compassion – something the staff ran out of quickly. And many of these patients were well-off… their wealth did not buy them happiness or contentment. – p.110
Meaning of age
Yes, I said, but if aging were so valuable, why do people alwas say, “Oh, if I were young again.” You never hear people say, “I wish I were sixty-five.”
He smiled. “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…” – p.119
‘… 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.” – p.167