I read this book during my road trip and it was truly inspirational and life-changing. Even as he is dying, Morrie Schwartz's optimism, selflessness and wisdom shines through. His advice for a happy and fulfilled life is so simple yet coherent and applicable.
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?
Everyone knows they're going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently. There's a better approach. To know you're going to die, and to be prepared for it at any time. That's better. That way you can actually be more involved in your life while you're living it. Do what the Buddhists do. Everyday, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, "Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be? Is today the day I die?" The truth is, once you learn to die, you learn how to live.
The culture doesn't encourage you to think about such things until you're about to die. We're all so wrapped up with egotistical things, career, family, having enough money, meeting the mortgage, getting a new car, fixing the radiator when it breaks - we're involved in trillions of little acts just to keep going. So we don't get into the habit of standing back and looking at our lives and saying, Is this all? Is this all I want? Is something missing?
The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. 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.
Here's what I mean about building your own little subculture. 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. The biggest defect we human beings have is our shortsightedness. We don't see what we could be. We should be looking at your potential, stretching ourselves into everything we can become. But if you're surrounded by people who say "I want mine now", you end up with a few people with everything and a military to keep the poor ones from rising up and stealing it. The problem 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 night 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. Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little community of those you love and who love you.
As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on - in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here. Death ends a life, not a relationship.