Recovery corner: Book helps bring clarity

Patrick Kempfer, Opinion Editor

“Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them too, even when you are in the dark. Even when you’re falling.” – Morrie Schwartz

There are few things, if any, in life that are as real as love and connectedness. I believe that love is, in fact, the very essence of connectedness, and it can be carried with us everywhere we go, and for as long as we live. In the book, “Tuesdays With Morrie,” Morrie points out our cultural infatuation with the insignificant (e.g. status, money, prestige, etc.), and goes even further by relating things that are truly important, like love, family, and humanness. I have had my share of both love and heartache in life, and I’ve experienced much loss to emphasize both.

As a person in long-term recovery, I am in need of spiritual uplift on a daily basis, given my ongoing struggle, not only with remaining abstinent from alcohol and other drugs, including nicotine, but also my continuing battle with depression, anxiety, and the memories I carry with me everywhere I go. This book has brought much clarity and meaning to my current place in the world in which I live today, and a new significance I never knew prior to cracking open this dusty memoir about an old man, his student, and the ways in which we perceive our lives, both from the inside and out.

Morrie says, “We need to forgive ourselves. For all the things we didn’t do. All the things we should have done. You can’t get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened.”

It is too easy to allow the things we feel bad about in life, whether it’s something done to us or by us, too easy to keep us from moving forward with our lives, our relationships, and our spiritual selves. With all the room we reserve for pain and confusion in our world, we can set aside some space for love as well.

In this book, Morrie invites Mitch, and many others, on a journey through the death process. He makes it his priority to teach some of the most significant lessons in life, about love and forgiveness, death and dying, and the importance of connection with others. “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”

What I have taken from this book, is to never waste time and energy on things that lack substance. Sure, we have to have jobs and pay bills, but none of that stuff is as real as the feelings we feel. Whether we have love or hate in our hearts, we carry it with us everywhere. However, love is what brings us comfort in the most devastating of times in life. It can be very hard, of course, when things like wars, disasters, and we find the fate of a nation hanging in the balance, and each one of us feels absolutely powerless to change anything. We can often feel as if our world is about to smash into a million tiny pieces. We can get so caught up in our drive to be on top of everything that we can easily forget that we are part of something so much bigger.

At one point in the book, Morrie shares with Mitch, a story about a little wave. The wave sees it is about to crash into the rocks ahead, and it is terrified, because it believes that everything begins and ends with itself. When the next wave tells the first that it will be alright, that they are not all separate waves, but part of something much bigger, a part of the ocean, the first waves gains perspective, and is able to find comfort in that knowledge.

I hope that we can all be so fortunate.