This is the 2nd time I read this book, the first time being a few years ago. I too watched the movie and still remembered the stellar performance of Jack Lemon. I particularly enjoyed the flashback to author’s early days in school – his relationship with his coach and the Morrie’s own early life – discovered his mother’s death via a telegram at age of 8, growing up with his young brother David, who contracted polio at early age, his step-mother, Eva’ influence, and identified his father’s body at the morgue. In addition, the author shared his relationship with his brother, who was fighting cancer remotely on his own in Spain. It helps to re-read this book every few years as we get closer and closer to the end line. A few lessons I learned:
If you must feel sorry for yourself, give yourself a good cry (limit your self-pity) and then concentrate on the good things that are still happening in your life.
Our culture doesn’t encourage us to think about the most important things in our life – our family, relationships and friendships. We’re so wrapped up with “egotistical things” (career, having enough money, meeting the mortgage, and etc.)
Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live. Ask the little bird, “Is today the day? Am I Ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?” “Everyone knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it.”
The great poet Auden said, “Love each other or perish.” “Without love, we are birds with broken wings.”
Embrace your emotion and experience it fully. Then detach from it.
Aging is not just decay. 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. If you have found meaning in your life, you don’t want to go back. You want to go forward. You want to see more and do more. If you’re always battling against getting older, you’re going to be unhappy, because it will happen anyhow.
“Money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness.” “The day he learned that he was terminally ill was the day he lost interest in his purchasing power.” “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 to 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.” “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.” On marriage, it’s important to respect each other, compromise, talk openly about what goes on between the two, have a common set of values. The biggest set of value is your belief in the importance of your marriage.
On culture: “No matter where you live, the biggest defect we human beings have is our shortsightedness. We don’t see what we could be. We should be looking at our potential, stretching ourselves into everything we can become.” “Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little community of those you love and who love you.”
Forgive others but most importantly forgive yourself.
“It’s not contagious, you know. Death is as natural as life. It’s part of the deal we made.” “We aren’t waves; we’re all part of the ocean.” “There is no formula to relationships. They have to be negotiated in loving ways, with room for both parties, what they want and what they need, what they can do and what their life is like.”