Here was a man who, if he wanted, could spend every waking moment in self-pity, feeling his body for decay, counting his breaths. So many people with far smaller problems are so self-absorbed, their eyes glaze over if you speak for more than thirty seconds. They already have something else in mind – a friend to call, a fax to send, a lover they’re daydreaming about. They only snap back to full attention when you finish talking, at which point they say „Uh-huh“ or „Yeah, really“ and fake their way back to the moment. (…) We are great at small talk: „What do you do?“ „Where do you live?“ But really listening to someone – without trying to sell them something, pick them up, recruit them, or get some kind of status in return – how often do we get this anymore? I believe many visitors in the last few months of Morrie’s life were drawn not because of the attention they wanted to pay to him but because of the attention he paid to them. Despite his personal pain and decay, this little old man listened the way they always wanted someone to listen.
(Mitch Albom – Tuesdays with Morrie)