I just picked up Mitch Albom’s other work, The Five People You Meet In Heaven today, and managed to read the entire thing in one day. I can’t say it was as great as Tuesdays With Morrie, but it had its moments. I’m trying to do lots of reading to prime myself to do lots of journal article reading for the rest of the summer XD.
Pride in Loss of Dignity
(A man named the “Blue Man” is talking to the main character, Eddie about his life; he became the Blue Man because of a silver nitrate overdose, which caused his skin to turn blue, and soon became a circus attraction after being shunned away in general society.)
“The carnivals gave me my names, Edward. Sometimes I was the Blue Man of the North Pole, or the Blue Man of Algeria… I had never been to any of these places, of course, but it was pleasant to be considered exotic, if only on a painted sign. The ‘show’ was simple. I would sit on the stage, half undressed, as people walked past and the barker told them how pathetic I was. For this, I was able to put a few coins in my pocket. The manager once called me the ‘best freak’ in his stable, and, sad as it sounds, I took pride in that. When you are an outcast, even a tossed stone can be cherished.” – p. 42
Convergence ~ Strangers/Death
“That there are no random acts. that we are all connected. That you can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind.”
Eddie shook his head. “We were throwing a ball. It was my stupidity, running out there like that. Why should you have to die on account of me? It ain’t fair.”
The Blue Man held out his hand. “Fairness,” he said, “does not govern life and death. If it did, no good person would ever die young.”
“My funeral,” the Blue Man said. “Look at the mourners. Some did not even know me well, yet they came. Why? Did you ever wonder? Why people gather when others die? Why people feel they should?
It is because the human spirit knows, deep down, that all lives intersect. That death doesn’t just take someone, it misses someone else, and in the small distance between being taken and being missed, lives are changed.
You say you should have died instead of me. But during my time on earth, people died instead of me, too. It happens every day. When lightning strikes a minute after you are gone, or an airplane crashes that you might have been on… We think such things are random. But there is a balance to it all. One withers, another grows, Birth and death are part of a whole.”
“I still don’t understand,” Eddie whispered. “What good came from your death?”
“You lived,” the Blue Man answered.
“But we barely knew each other. I might as well have been a stranger.”
“Strangers,” the Blue Man said, “are just family you have yet to come to know.”
“No life is a waste,” the Blue Man said. “The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.” – p. 47-50
“Sacrifice,” The Captain said. “You made one. I made one. We all make them. But you were angry over yours. You kept thinking about what you lost.
You didn’t get it. Sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to. Little sacrifices. Big sacrifices. A mother works so her son can go to school. A daughter moves home to take care of her sick father.”
“That’s the thing. Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you’re not really losing it. You’re just passing it on to someone else.” – p. 93-94
(Note: There was this scene on page 95 on the fallacy of holding the same perspective from the past to the present, but it’s difficult to transcribe without giving appropriate context first…)
‘All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.’ – p. 104
Those Make You Who You Are
‘Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them – a mother’s approval, a father’s nod – are covered by moments of their own accomplishments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives.’ – p. 126
(They are talking about Eddie’s father and his death. Mickey is Eddie’s father’s best friend, who in a drunken stupor, tried to make a move on the father’s wife; Mickey and the father were fighting and got too deep into the ocean; the father in the end, saved Mickey because he still valued their friendship, and paid for it with his life.)
“Fifty-six,” the old woman repeated. “His body had weakened, the ocean had left him vulnerable, pneumonia took hold of him, and in time, he died.”
“Because of Mickey?” Eddie said.
“Because of loyalty,” she said.
“People don’t die because of loyalty.”
“They don’t?” She smiled. “Religion? Government? Are we not loyal to such things, sometimes to the death?”
“Better,” she said, “to be loyal to one another.” – p. 138
Ruby stepped toward him. “Edward,” she said softly. It was the first time she had called him by name. “Learn this from me. Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.
Forgive, Edward. Forgive. Do you remember the lightness you felt when you first arrived in heaven?”
Eddie did. Where is my pain?
“That’s because no one is born with anger. And when we die, the soul is freed of it. But now, here, in order to move on, you must understand why you felt what you did, and why you no longer need to feel it.”
She touched his hand.
“You need to forgive your father.” – p. 141-142
‘Love like rain, can nourish from above, drenching couples with a soaking joy. But sometimes, under the angry heat of life, love dries on the surface and must nourish from below, tending to its roots, keeping itself alive.’ – p. 164
(Eddie’s dead wife is talking to him.)
“Lost love is still love, Eddie. It takes a different form, that’s all. You can’t see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those senses weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it.
Life has to end,” she said. “Love doesn’t.”
Eddie thought about the years after he buried his wife. It was like looking over a fence. He was aware of another kind of life out there, even as he knew he would never be a part of it.
“I never wanted anyone else,” he said quietly.
“I know,” she said.
“I was still in love with you.”
“I know.” She nodded. “I felt it.”
“Here [in heaven]?” he asked.
“Even here,” she said, smiling. “That’s how strong lost love can be.”