Friday, June 07, 2013

Quotes from Mitch Albom's "Tuesdays with Morrie"

Morrie Schwartz was declared having the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Lou Gehrig's disease, a brutal, unforgiving illness of the neurological system. Morrie's doctors guessed he had two years left. He had made a profound decision that he would make death his final project, the center point of his days. Since everyone was g
oing to die, he could be of great value. He could be research. A human textbook. "Study me in my slow and patient demise. Watch what happens to me. Learn with me."

The last class of the old professor's life had only one student. Mitch Albom was the student.

Here's some quotes from the final paper of the class. A single page blog that would make it easier to recall and to be a reminder in daily.


"Love wins. Love always win."

"I once promised myself I would never work for money, that I would join the Peace Corps, that I would live in beautiful, inspirational places."

"The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We're teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn't work, don't buy it."

"People scooped up these tabloids, devoured their gossips, and I had always done the same. Why did we bother with all the distractions we did? I spent so many hours on things that meant absolutely nothing to me personally: movie stars, supermodels, the latest noise out of Princess Di or Madonna or John F. Kennedy, Jr. People didn't know anyone involved in the case. Yet they gave up days and weeks of their lives, addicted to someone else's drama."

"Morrie had developed his own culture. Discussion groups, walks with friends, dancing to his music in the Harvard Square church."

"He started a project called Greenhouse, where poor people could receive mental health services. He read books to find new ideas for his classes, visited with colleagues, kept up with old students, wrote letters to distant friends."

"He had created a cocoon of human activities--conversation, interaction, affection--and it filled his life like an overflowing soup bowl."

"So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. They 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."


"The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in."

"Love is the only rational act."


"My visits with Morrie felt like a cleansing rinse of human kindness. We talked about life and we talked about love. We talked about one of Morrie's favorite subject, compassion, and why our society had such a shortage of it."

"I give myself a good cry if I need it. But then I concentrate on all the good things still in my life."

"To know you're going to die, and to be prepared for it at anytime. 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? Every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, 'Is today the day? 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."

"Most of us all walk around as if we're sleep walking. We really don't experience the world fully, because we're half-asleep, doing things we automatically think we have to do. And facing death changes all that. You strip away all that stuff and you focus on the essentials. When you realize you are going to die, you see everything much differently."

"The truth is, if you accept that you can die at any time -- then you might not be as ambitious as you are. The things you spend so much time on--all this work you do--might not seem as important. You might have to make room for some more spiritual thing."

"Because I know my time is almost done, I am drawn to nature like I'm seeing it for the first time.".


"Love each other or perish."

"Without love, we are birds with broken wings."

"Say I was divorced, or living alone, or had no children. This disease would be so much harder. I'm not sure I could do it. Sure, people would come visit, friends, associates, but it's not the same as having someone who will not leave. It's not the same as having someone whom you know has an eye on you, is watching you the whole time. This is part of what family is about, not just love, but letting others know there's someone who is watching out for them."

"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."


"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're able to leave it."

"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."


"Having rejected medicine, law, and business, Morrie had decided the research world would be a place where he could contribute without exploiting others."

"One of the patients, a middle-aged woman, came out on of her room everyday and lay facedown on the tile floor, stayed there for hours, as doctors and nurses stepped around her. Everyday, she did the same thing: came out in the morning, lay on the floor, stayed there until the evening, talking to no one, ignored by everyone. It saddened Morrie. He 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 to return to her room. What she mostly wanted, he learned, was the same thing many people want--someone to notice she was there."

"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, from rich families, so their wealth did not buy them happiness or contentment. It was a lesson he never forgets.".

"...from the jeans and sandals they now wore when working to their view of the classroom as a living, breathing place. They chose discussions over lectures, experience over theory."

"Human beings want to feel that they mattered."



"Forget what the culture says. I have ignored the culture much of my life. I am not going to be ashamed. What's the big deal?"

"I began to enjoy my dependency. It's like going back to being a child again. Someone to bathe you. Someone to lift you. Someone to wipe you. We all know how to be a child. It's inside all of us. For me, it's just remembering how to enjoy it."

"The truth is, when our mothers held us, rocked us, stroked our heads--none of us ever got enough of that. We all yearn in some way to return to those days when we were completely taken care of--unconditional love, unconditional attention."

"At seventy-eight, Morrie was giving as an adult and taking as a child."

"I embrace aging. 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. It's growth. It's more thant 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 better life because of it."

"All younger people should know something. If you're always battling agaunst getting older, you're always going to be unhappy, because it will happen anyhow."

"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?"

"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."


"There's a big confusion in this country over what we want versus what we need."

"You know what really gives you satisfaction? Offering others what you have."

"This is how you start to get respect, by offering something that you have."

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."

"If you're trying o show off for people at the top, forget it. They will look down at 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."

"Giving to other people is what makes me feel alive. Not my car or my house. Not what I look like in the mirror."

"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."


"Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone."

"I believe in being fully present, that means you should be 'with' the person you're with."


"Friends are great, but friends are not going to be there 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."

"If you don't 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.".

"The biggest one of those values is your belief in the importance of your marriage."


"The little things, I can obey. But the big things--how we think, what we value--those you must choose yourself. You can't let anyone--or any society--determine those for you."

"Women not being thin enough, or men not being rich enough, it's just what our culture would have you believe. Don't believe it."

"Every society has its own problems. The way to do it isn't to run away. You have to work at creating your own culture."

"No matter where you live, the biggest defect we human beings have is our shortsightedness.".

"We don't believe we are as much alike as we are. Whites and blacks, Catholics and Protestants, men and women. If we say each other as more alike, we might be very eager to join in one big human family in this world, and to care about that family the way we care about our own."

"We all have the same beginning--birth--and we all have the same end--death. So how different can we be?"

"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. And at the end of life, you need others to survive. But here's the secret: in between, we need others as well."


"Be compassionate and take responsibility for each other. If we only learned those lessons, this world would be so much better a place."

"Love each other or die."


"Forgive yourself before you die. Then forgive others."

"There's no point in keeping vengeance or stubbornness."


"Death is as natural as life. It's part of the deal we made."

"If we know that we can ultimately have that piece of dying, then we can finally do the really hard thing, which is making peace with living.".

"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 life, not a relationship."

"In business, people negotiate to win. They negotiate to get what they want. Love is different. Love is when you are as concerned about someone else's situation as you are about your own."

"Sometimes, when you're losing someone, you hang on to whatever tradition you can."

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