Morrie program to air on WGBH Sunday, June 24
First local airing of Cokie Roberts show featuring Morrie Schwartz, Ted Koppel and Mitch Albom
More than 15 years has passed since Morrie Schwartz, the small man with the big heart, shared lessons about his imminent death with Ted Koppel on national television.
The Brandeis sociology professor, who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s Disease, became an icon around the world through his will to savor whatever life had to offer, continuing to pursue his passion for teaching to his last breath.
Koppel learned of Schwartz’s fate from a Boston Globe feature story by Jack Thomas in 1995. After seeing Schwartz on Nightline, former student Mitch Abloom ’79 went to see his beloved professor, which he documented in what would become the best-selling memoir in the history of publishing: “Tuesdays with Morrie,” which spent four years on the New York Times bestseller list.
In June of 2010, Cokie Roberts celebrated the historical connections in a show titled “Morrie.” The episode, never before broadcast locally, will air on WGBH at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 24.
After attending a memorial service of one of his friends, according to the Globe article, Schwartz said: “I decided I wanted an advance memorial. I want to hear it now, while I'm here."
And so it was arranged. One Sunday in February, at his home, family and friends gathered to tell him what he meant to them, and he, in turn, expressed his love for them.
"See, I don't want to have things wait till the end when everybody gathers 'round and mourns my passing at that moment. The dying isn't that last moment. That's a misconception. What's important is the living until that last moment,” Schwartz said. “The last moment is for mourning, and, hopefully, making the passage. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm going to make it as best I can."
Following is a sampling of Morris Schwartz's "Reflections on Maintaining One's Composure While Living with a Fatal Illness," taken from Thomas’s feature story:
- Begin by asserting a willful determination to be composed, by which I do not mean keeping a stiff upper lip or holding in your feelings or trying to be self-contained. Composure consists of one or more of these qualities: high spirits, inner peacefulness, courage, dignity, open-heartedness, humor, nobility, life-affirming patience, involvements, self-respect, self-esteem. If you act as if you are composed, you may become self-composed.
- Develop the capacity gracefully to accept frustration, incapacity and inability to do many of the things you were once able to do.
- Develop a new identity (partial) as a disabled person without diminishing your "self." Recognize that your body is not your "self," only part of it.
- Accept the past as past without denying or discarding it. Reminisce about it, but don't live in it. Learn from it, but don't punish yourself about it or continually regret it. Don't get stuck in it.
- Be occupied or focused on things and issues that are of interest, importance and concern to you. Remain passionately involved in them.
- Let your heart be open so that you are deeply touched by your own suffering as well as that of others. Try to be open to every experience, every situation, every thought, every sensation that arises in each moment. Don't exhaust yourself doing this, but do it as much as you can.
- This is the time to examine ultimate questions: the mystery of birth and death, the meaning of your existence on this planet, the destiny of the human race, the conditions that produced a harmonious universe, what it means to be fully human, the nature of the spirit and soul.
- This is the time to do a life review, to make amends, to identify and let go of regrets, to come to terms with unresolved relationships.
- Take in as much joy as you can whenever and however you can. You may find it in unpredictable places and situations.
- See and accept yourself as part of nature. Remember that it is natural to conclude your living by dying. Accept your mortality and try to leave this life with inner peace.
Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences