Excerpts from “tuesdays with Morrie” (Collection 2)

On trusting your heart
   "On this day, Morrie says he has an exercise for us to try. We are to stand, facing away from our classmates, and fall backward, relying on another student to catch us. Most of us are uncomfortable with this, and we cannot let go for more than a few inches before stopping ourselves. We laugh in embarassment.
    Finally, one student, a thin, quiet , dark-haired girl whom I notice almost always wears bulky white fisherman sweaters,crosses her arms over her chest, closes her eyes, leans back, and does not flinch, like one of those Lipton tea commercials where the model splashes into the pool.
    For a moment, I am sure she is going to thump on the floor. At the last instant, her assigned partner grabs her head and shoulders and yanks her up harshly.
   "Whoa!" several students yell. Some clap.
   Morrie finally smiles.
   "You see," he says to the girl, "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."

On Silence

"How will you give when you can no longer speak?" Koppel asked.
He(Koppel) asked Morrie about silence. He mentioned a dear friend Morrie had, Maurie Stein, who had first sent Morrie’s aphorisms to the Boston Globe. They had been together since the early sixties. Now Stein was going deaf. Koppel imagined the two men together one day, one unable to speak, the other unable to hear. What would that be like ?

"We will hold hands," Morrie said. "And there’ll be a lot ot love passing between us. Ted, we’ve had thirty-five years of friendship. You don’t need speech or hearing to feel that."

On experiencing life through detachment

"What I’m doing now," he continued, his eyes still closed, "is detaching myself from the experience."
Detaching yourself ?

"Yes.Detaching myself. 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."

He opened his eyes. He exhaled. "You know what the Buddhists say ? Don’t cling to things, because everything is impermanent."

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 ?

"Ah. You’re thinking, Mitch. But 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."

I’m lost.
"Take any emotion – love for a woman, or grief for a loved one, or what I’m going throug, fear and pain from a deadly illness. 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. And only then can you say, "All right. I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment."

…….My 2 cents worth from Buddhist perspective :  Never deny or reject negative events or emotions. Denial and repression only makes it come back in uglier ways.  Buddhists talked a lot about detachment but how could one detach from something they themselves never know of or felt due to our ability to repress. Absence of emotions is not a sign of detachment but a sign of our cleverness in hiding and repressing them. Or worst yet insensitive to it…..
On Needing others

"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."

……My 2 Cents worth : all of life is relationship – with ourselves, with others and with our environment. Recognising this deep interdependence evoke in us a deep sense of gratitude. Without gratitude we tended to be selfish and self-serving.

On loving

    Koppel asked Morrie at the end of the interview if there’s anything he wanted to tell the millions of people he had touched.

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

    He took a breath, then added his mantra : "Love each other or die."

…….My 2 cents worth : To truly live, we have to love. Love is the breath of life. Without it we are nothing more than walking, talking zombies, going through the motion of living.

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