The problem, Mitch, is that we don't believe we are as much alike as we are. Whites and blacks, Catholics and Protestants, men and women. If we saw each other as more alike, we might be very eager to join in one big human family in this world, and to care about that family the way we care about our own. But believe me, when you are dying, you see it is true. We all have the same beginning - birth - and we all have the same end - death. So how different can we be? Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little community of those you love and who love you. Morrie Schwartz
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I don't mean you disregard every rule of your community. I don't go around naked, for example. I don't run through red lights. The little things, I can obey. But the big things- how we think, what we value- those you must choose yourself. You can't let anyone-or any society- determine those for you. ' -Morrie Schwartz
I used to be a classic workaholic, and after seeing how little work and career really mean when you reach the end of your life, I put a new emphasis on things I believe count more. These things include: family, friends, being part of a community, and appreciating the little joys of the average day.
Don't cling to things, because everything is impermanent... 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...You're afraid of the pain, you're afraid of the grief... 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. "All right. I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment.
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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 heard even, you experience them fully and completely.
And in that line now was a whiskered old man, with a linen cap and a crooked nose, who waited in a place called the Stardust Band Shell to share his part of the secret of heaven: that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.
No. You can't work your way into heaven. Anytime you try and justify yourself with works, you disqualify yourself with works. What I do here, every day, for the rest of my life, is only my way of saying, 'Lord, regardless of what eternity holds for me, let me give something back to you. I know it doesn't even no scorecard. But let me make something of my life before I go.. and then, Lord, I'm at your mercy.
A wind blew, and the sand around his drawing scattered. He wrapped his fingers inside his wife's, and Father Time rekindled a connection he had only ever had with her. He surrendered to that sensation and felt the final drops of their lives touch one another, like water in a cave, top meets bottom, Heaven meets Earth. As their eyes closed, a different set of eyes opened, and they rose from the ground as a shared south, up and up, a sun and a moon in a single sky.
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When he went blundering back to God, His songs half written, his work half done, Who knows what paths his bruised feet trod, What hills of peace or pain he won? I hope God smiled and took his hand, And said, "Poor truant, passionate fool! Life's book is hard to understand: Why couldst thou not remain at school?" A poem by Charles Hanson Towne
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The fact is, there is no foundation, no secure ground, upon which people may stand today if it isn't the family. If you don't have the support and love and caring and concern that you get from a family, you don't have much at all. Love is so supremely important. As our great poet Auden said, 'Love each other or perish'.
Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from the inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves. Forgive, Edward. Forgive...no one is born with anger. And when we die, the soul is freed of it. But now, here, in order to move on, you must understand why you felt what you did, and why you no longer need to feel it.' She touched his hand. 'You need to forgive your father.' ~pgs 141-142
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If we tend to the things that are important in life, if we are right with those we love, and behave in line with our faith, our lives will not be cursed with the aching throb of unfulfilled business. Our words will always be sincere, our embraces will be tight. We will never wallow in the agony of 'I could have, I should have'. We can sleep in a storm. And when its time, our goodbyes will be complete.
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The second death. To think that you died and no one would remember you. I wondered if this was why we tried so hard to make our mark in America. To be known. Think of how important celebrity has become. We sing to get famous; expose our worst secrets to get famous; lose weight, eat bugs, even commit murder to get famous. Our young people post their deepest thoughts on public web sites. They run cameras from their bedrooms. It's as if we are screaming Notice Me! Remember Me! Yet the notoriety barely lasts. Names quickly blur and in time are forgotten.
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Look, if you say that science will eventually prove there is no God, on that I must differ. No matter how small they take it back, to a tadpole, to an atom, there is always something they can't explain, something that created it all at the end of the search. 'And no matter how far they try to go the other way - to extend life, play around with the genes, clone this, clone that, live to one hundred and fifty - at some point, life is over. And then what happens? When the life comes to an end?' I shrugged. 'You see?' He leaned back. He smiled. 'When you come to the end, that's where God begins.
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Personally, I always wondered about authors and celebrities who loudly declared there was no God. It was usually when they were healthy and popular and being listened to by crowds. What happens, I wondered, in the quiet moments before death? By then, they have lost the stage, the world has moved on. If suddenly, in their last gasping moments, through fear, a vision, a late enlightenment, they change their minds about God, who would know?
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Look. I know what I believe. It's in my soul. But I constantly tell our people: you should be convinced of the authenticity of what you have, but you must also be humble enough to say that we don't know everything. And since we don't know everything, we must accept that another person may believe something else.
I hope you never hear those words. Your mom. She died. They are different than other words. They are too big to fit in your ears. They belong to some strange, heavy, powerful language that pounds away at the side of your head, a wrecking ball coming at you again and again, until finally, the words crack a hole large enough to fit inside your brain. And in so doing, they split you apart.
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He tells my parents how I took every class he taught. He tells them, 'You have a special boy here.' Embarrassed, I look at my feet. Before we leave, I hand my professor a present, a tan briefcase with his initials on the front. I bought this the day before at a shopping mall. I didn't want to forget him. Maybe I didn't want him to forget me. 'Mitch, you are one of the good ones, ' he says, admiring the briefcase. Then he hugs me. I feel his thin arms around my back. I am taller than he is, and when he holds me, I feel awkward, older, as if I were the parent and he were the child. He asks if I will stay in touch, and without hesitation I say, 'Of course.' When he steps back, I see that he is crying.
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There are five people you meet in heaven. Each of us was in your life for a reason. You may not have known the reason at the time, and that is what heaven is for. For understanding your life on earth. This is the greatest gift God can give you: to understand what happened in your life. To have it explained. It is the peace you have been searching for.
The story of my recent life.' I like that phrase. It makes more sense than 'the story of my life', because we get so many lives between birth and death. A life to be a child. A life to come of age. A life to wander, to settle, to fall in love, to parent, to test our promise, to realize our mortality- and in some lucky cases, to do something after that realization.
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Everyone is in such a hurry. People haven't found meaning in their lives, so they're running all the time looking for it. They think the next car, the next house, the next job. Then they find those things are empty, too, and they keep running. Once you start running, it's hard to slow yourself down.