How much do I want to read more? 6/10

An old professor distill his wisdom during his last year before to die from an uncurable disease.

It makes me think of my father, who died from cancer. I wish I had visited him more often. I was so awkward to talk to him, that I didn't tell him how much he has been important, how wonderful his presence had been to me, how meaningful. I never felt that close to anyone.

As the author says, "I had no good excuse for this, except the one that everyone these days seems to have. I had become too wrapped up in the siren song of my own life. I was busy."
I knew earning my life for a living away from my family was kind of a dumb thing. I was just amazed how my life could have become so tastelss after having been so full and magical?


The Syllabus

Do I wither up and disappear, or do I make the best of my time left?

his mind was vibrating with a million thoughts.
He was intent on proving that the word “dying” was not synonymous with “useless.”

he was fighting time to say all the things he wanted to say to all the people he loved.

Morrie went to his funeral. He came home depressed.
“What a waste,” he said. “All those people saying all those wonderful things, and Irv never got to hear any of it.”


The Student

Instead of chasing my own fame, I wrote about famous athletes chasing theirs.

My uncle had worked for a corporation and hated it—same thing, every day—and I was determined never to end up like him.

I told her—and myself—that we would one day start a family, something she wanted very much. But that day never came.
Instead, I buried myself in accomplishments.


The Orientation

For all the time we’d spent together, for all the kindness and patience Morrie had shown me when I was young, I should have dropped the phone and jumped from the car, run and held him and kissed him hello.

I tended to my work, even while my dying professor waited on his front lawn. I am not proud of this, but that is what I did.

I was surprised at such affection after all these years. I had forgotten how close we once were. I remembered graduation day, the briefcase, his tears at my departure, and I swallowed because I knew, deep down, that I was no longer the good, gift-bearing student he remembered.

“Mitch,” he said softly, “you know that I’m dying.”
“Shall I tell you what it’s like?”
Although I was unaware of it, our last class had just begun.


The Classroom

now that I’m dying, I’ve become much more interesting to people.
“People see me as a bridge. I’m not as alive as I used to be, but I’m not yet dead. I’m sort of…in-between.”

I had no good excuse for this, except the one that everyone these days seems to have. I had become too wrapped up in the siren song of my own life. I was busy.

I traded lots of dreams for a bigger paycheck, and I never even realized I was doing it.

“Have you found someone to share your heart with?”
“Are you giving to your community?
“Are you at peace with yourself?
“Are you trying to be as human as you can be?”

What happened to me? I once promised myself I would never work for money.
I did not have long discussions over egg salad sandwiches about the meaning of life.
My days were full, yet I remained, much of the time, unsatisfied.
What happened to me?

“Dying,” Morrie suddenly said, “is only one thing to be sad over, Mitch. Living unhappily is something else. So many of the people who come to visit me are unhappy.”

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. Create your own. Most people can’t do it. They’re more unhappy than me—even in my current condition.
“I may be dying, but I am surrounded by loving, caring souls. How many people can say that?”

Morrie, who could no longer dance, swim, bathe, or walk; Morrie, who could no longer answer his own door, dry himself after a shower, or even roll over in bed. How could he be so accepting? I watched him struggle with his fork, picking at a piece of tomato, missing it the first two times—a pathetic scene, and yet I could not deny that sitting in his presence was almost magically serene, the same calm breeze that soothed me back in college.

I shot a glance at my watch—force of habit—it was getting late, and I thought about changing my plane reservation home. Then Morrie did something that haunts me to this day.
“You know how I’m going to die?” he said.
“I know, Mitch. You mustn’t be afraid of my dying. I’ve had a good life, and we all know it’s going to happen. I maybe have four or five months.”

“Inhale a few times.” I did as he said.
“Now, once more, but this time, when you exhale, count as many numbers as you can before you take another breath.”
“When the doctor first asked me to do this, I could reach twenty-three. Now it’s eighteen.”

“Come back and see your old professor,” Morrie said when I hugged him good-bye.
I promised I would, and I tried not to think about the last time I promised this.


Taking Attendance

But now, for some reason, I found myself thinking about Morrie whenever I read anything silly or mindless. I kept picturing him there, in the house with the Japanese maple and the hardwood floors, counting his breath, squeezing out every moment with his loved ones, while 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. In a strange way, I envied the quality of Morrie’s time even as I lamented its diminishing supply. Why did we, bother with all the distractions we did?

Morrie, true to these words, had developed his own culture—long before he got sick. Discussion groups, walks with friends, dancing to his music.

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

I had also developed my own culture. Work.

“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. The 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 newspaper had been my lifeline, my oxygen; when I saw my stories in print in each morning, I knew that, in at least one way, I was alive.


WE TALK ABOUT THE WORLD

Now that I’m suffering, I feel closer to people who suffer than I ever did before.

Maybe death is the great equalizer, the one big thing that can finally make strangers shed a tear for one another.

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


WE TALK ABOUT FEELING SORRY FOR YOURSELF

I give myself a good cry if I need it. But then I concentrate on all the good things still in my life. On the people who are coming to see me. On the stories I’m going to hear. On you.