Morrie teaches life lessons for new year

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 29, 2005

As I drove through Magnolia Cemetery on Christmas Eve, I noticed all of the new and not-so-new poinsettias on the graves and headstones.

Some people had laid Christmas wreaths on some of the slabs, which I thought was very reverent and poignant.

But then, I was struck with the thought that as much as the living would like to have the dead with them at Christmastime, of course that can't be, except in our memories.

I came to the conclusion that all of the poinsettias and Christmas wreaths were for the living, not the dead.

It is we who need the comforting.

Even so, it shouldn't be a time of sadness because we have family members and friends who are no longer here to share the entire holiday season with us.

It made me think about Professor Morrie Schwartz, who is the subject of one of my most favorite non-fiction novels, Tuesday's with Morrie.

It is the true story of the final days of this wise professor who had been diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

He is visited by one of his former college students, Mitch Albom, a sports journalist who has his life enlightened and completely changed by his visits with Morrie before his death.

I always loved to teach Morrie's aphorisms to my high school juniors, with the hope that at least some of those life lessons would stick with them.

An aphorism is a brief statement of a principle, a fundamental truth or a personal code of conduct by which one lives his life.

Morrie had some wonderful aphorisms that I try to incorporate into my life today.

As we move into the new year, I would like to share with you some things that I believe should make us stop and think and reflect on the overall meaning of our lives not only during this time of year but at any time.

n Dying is only one thing to be sad over; living unhappily is something else.

n Don't assume that it's too late to get involved.

n Accept what you are able to do and what you're not able to do.

n Love is the only rational act.

n Once you learn how to die, then you'll know how to live.

n Love each other or perish.

n Don't cling to things because everything is impermanent.

n When you're in bed, you're dead.

n Forgive yourself before you die, and then forgive others.

n Death ends a life, not a relationship.

n The day Morrie learned he was terminally ill was the day he lost all interest in money and material things.

That's a lesson for everyone in today's lucre-centered society.

Professor Morrie Schwartz was one of the greatest teachers who ever lived.

His tombstone reads, &#8220A teacher to the last.”

Even while he was dying, he was still teaching.

The teaching goes on.

Regina Grayson is managing editor of The Luverne Journal. She can be reached at 335-3541 or by email: