This book focuses on the words of Morrie Schwartz as he faced his own imminent death due to ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease). ALS is incurable, disabling, and eventually fatal.
Even in the process of dying, Mr. Schwartz shared his knowledge about forgiveness, love, and redemption; and how to live a full and meaningful life.
Here are some excerpts which I found particularly meaningful:
- Accept yourself, your physical condition, and your fate as they are at the present moment.
- Get as much help as you can when you need it.
- People refuse help because they feel their self-esteem depends on their being "independent." We fear that someone or other we have been diminished because we need, want, and desire another person's help .... From my point of view, it makes so much more sense to be clear about your needs and realize that you need others, just as they need you.
- Grieving never ends with one outpouring. The need to cry, to mourn, to groan, to sob may come back time and time again. Let yourself feel the depth of your tears, your sense of loss, the pain, and the emptiness that you feel because of it.
- Keep your heart open as long as you can, as wide as you can, for others and especially for yourself. Be generous, decent, and welcoming.
- If you become ill and no longer have the strength to write letters or make lots of phone calls, your caregiver can become your lifeline.
- We all know that we're dying...day by day we're getting closer to our death. The best way to deal with that is to live in a fully conscious, compassionate, loving way.
- One hundred and ten years from now no one who is here now will be alive. When you look at it that way, you can see how absurb it is that we individualize ourselves with our fences and hoarded possessions, refusing to recognize our commonalities.
- Learn how to live, and you'll know how to die; learn how to die, and you'll know how to live.
- The best preparation for living fully and well is to be prepeared to die at any time, because impending death inspires clarity of purpose, a homing in on what really matters to you.
- When you feel that the end is near, you are more likely to pay close attention to whatever you treasure, especially relationships with loved ones.
- The more committed you are to living an ethical life, the less you have to fear having your life come to an end.
- [This is] a story about a wave...that my meditation teacher told me. There's this little wave, a he-wave who's bobbing up and down in the ocean off the shore, having a great time. All of a sudden, he realizes he's going to crash into the shore.
In this big wide ocean, he's now moving toward the shore, and he'll be annihilated. "My God, what's going to happen to me?" he says, a sour and despairing look on this face.
Along comes a female wave, bobbing up and down, having a great time. And the female wave says to the male wave, "Why are you so depressed?"
The male says, "You don't understand. You're going to crash into that shore, and you'll be nothing."
She says, "You don't understand. You're not a wave; you're part of the ocean."
That's what I believe, too. I'm not a wave; I'm part of all humanity. I'm going to die, but I'm also going to live on. In some other form? Who knows? But I believe that I am part of a larger whole.