I found “Tuesdays With Morrie” laying on one of the bookshelves in my school’s English library. So I picked it up. Skimmed through the Introduction. Cozied up on the floral couch in front of the window after my final class and got up two hours and a book later.
You should read that book.
Now, my mood is contemplative. Death is a weird thing–I’m not sure what I think about it.
In high school, the day before I left for Panama, I typed up a quick word document on the computer. I wrote a short list of people I loved and the reasons why, and included a note that these people should be informed of that if my plane crash-landed in Costa Rica. Paranoid, is what I am.
I went to and returned from Panama. Twice.
I walked into my fourth-period orchestra class one day and gave Patrick a hug.
“Hey, I love you, and I just want you to know that.”
He laughed, “Where did that come from?”
“I read a poem about how you never know when you might die, and you should never leave things undone or unsaid. So I’m just telling people I love them.”
He laughed again, “You’re so random.”
I took that to mean, “I love you, too.”
“We all have the same beginning–birth–and we all have the same end–death. So how different can we be?
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, right? And at the end of life, when you get like me, you need others to survive, right?“
His voice dropped to a whisper. “But here’s the secret: in between, we need others as well.” (p. 156-157)
At one point in the book, Morrie talks about how we, as people, are so focused on achievement and getting, getting, getting, that we never take time to breathe and enjoy the life we have, right now.
From page 118:
“Mitch, I embrace aging.”
“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.”
I’m not saying I’m particularly excited about having saggy skin and struggling to walk up a flight of stairs, but I do enjoy getting older. I find old people fascinating. They’ve lived. They’ve done things, and been places, and met people and just experienced so much. That’s why I love getting older. The more I live, the more I live. The more people I love, the more stories I hear, the more places I see, the more things I learn, the more I grow and change and develop–
And every time I smile, which is in the hundreds-of-times a day, I feel the crinkles around my eyes, and I know it won’t be too long before they settle in for the long haul.
If we’re friends, chances are, at one point or another, I’ve asked too many questions, or gotten too personal, or made things awkward. Because I love to hear stories.
A dear friend once observed, “It’s not that you’re bad at small talk. It’s just that your small talk is so much bigger than everybody else’s small talk.”
Morrie’s take on always pursuing the next-best-thing also had me thinking. You know, I have that paper-chain-link counting down the days until I leave Korea (which is under 90 now, by the way!). But…I’m running out of time. There aren’t enough weekends left to hang out with all the people I want to spend time with to the extent I want to spend time with them. There’s never enough time, when it comes to people.
This is all very disjointed, just musings and thoughts and words written down as I think of them.
Because in Korea, the likelihood of being run over by a delivery motorbike or a minivan or a moving truck when they jump onto the sidewalk and maneuver around pedestrians and bikes and trees and little dogs is relatively high. At times I think I’m actually safer on the road than the sidewalk!
And you know, do you ever wonder how people will remember you when you’re gone? Sorry, not trying to sound morbid, or overly sentimental and eye-roll-worthy, but–Well, I’ve deactivated my Facebook for the time being, so that’ll cut down on the number of people who give this a skim anyways 🙂
“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.” (p. 174)
I still talk to Grandpa. I ask him if he’s proud of me.
“It’s not just other people we need to forgive, Mitch, we also need to forgive ourselves…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.” (p. 166)
I don’t give up on people easily. Causes problems. But I’m learning. I’m learning that you can’t keep asking “What if?” and kicking yourself for “might have”s. I’m ashamed to admit when things and people affect me, when I have a hard time letting go. But then, that’s just me. It aggravates me when people fall short of their potential–when they fail to see themselves as God sees them or even as people see them and then fall into a pattern of self-doubt.
“In business, people negotiate to win. They negotiate to get what they want. Maybe you’re too used to that. Love is different. Love is when you are as concerned about someone else’s situation as you are about your own.” (p. 178)
From page 52:
“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.'”
Oh, and as for the Rob Bell hullabaloo, Morrie said it first. On page 40.
“Love wins. Love always wins.”