Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago. Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger? Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life. Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final "class": lessons in how to live. Tuesdays with Morrie is a magical chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie's lasting gift with the world.
This small little book is a marvelous testament to the human spirit. Here was a man, a philosophy professor, who was literally dying inch by inch in his body and yet his spirit was indomitable. As his life was shrinking away from ALS, Morrie spent his time explaining to his former student what was important in life and what wasn't. His teaching was spiritual yet realistic. Love, according to Morrie, was the most significant act and forgiveness of self - well, according to him " for all the mistakes you've made, for all the things you did you shouldn't have, for all the things you should have done, don't get stuck on your regrets."
The lesson he was teaching is one that is hard to learn, but definitely worthwhile to hear.
"The last class of my old professor's life took place once a week in his home by a window in his study where he could watch a small hibiscus plant shed its pink flowers. The class met on Tuesdays, no books were required. The subject was the meaning of life. It was taught from experience. The teaching goes on."
I don't usually read books like this but I'm definitely glad I read this one. I learn a few important items.
I only have it in my collection (actually I only have it at all) because it was given to me freely by my undergraduate university as an "This author is coming to visit, here, read his book" (this was back in 1999). The book was banal and touchy-feely, and very short, and even as it ended it never answered any of the few questions it raised for me, such as "Did Albom every work things out with his wife?" I went to the lecture because it was the first author lecture I'd had the opportunity to go to.
The lecture was worse. Albom didn't give a lecture at all, just read a chapter from his book. The first chapter, even, not even picking an excerpt like, "This is a favorite excerpt of mine, and here's why, and I'd like to read to you". Albom answered no questions and provided no information beyond what was found in the book. During the book signing, the single word I heard him say to any student was "Name?" (and I made a point of saying "Thank you for coming" to him as he signed my copy). Even taking into effect how hard book tours can be on an author, I think he could have taken the lecture and signing more professionally.
"Do the kinds of things that come from the heart. When you do, you won't be dissatisfied , you won't be envious, you won't be longing for somebody else's things. On the contrary, you'll be overwhelmed wih what comes back."
I first read this book a decade ago - it touched me then, and it still does.
If you want a reminder of how important your time spent with friends can be, then this book will definitely be that for you. You will laugh & cry but it was one of the most inspirational books I have read. You can't help but like Morrie Schwartz with his common sense and wisdom : "Everyone knows they're going to die.. but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently." is so on target. Definitely a biography that is readable and memorable.
Frankly, I was more moved by Marley and Me...does this mean that I don't have a soul?
Morrie's summation of what is important is life is simple:
So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.
Some of Morries' other aphorisms:
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.
The fact is, there is no foundation, no secure ground, upon which people may stand today if it isn't the family. It's become quite clear to me as I've been sick. If you don't have the support and love and caring and concern that you get from a family, you don't have much at all. Love is so supremely important.
Dying is only one thing to be sad over....Living unhappily is something else.
But if the old man taught his student-friend anything at all, it was the fact that nothing was too late in life. As Albom rekindled the friendship with his professor whose life was as if being marked off by crossing the days on the calendar, their encounter turned into a final class that met every Tuesday on the meaning of life. Tuesdays with Morrie is the transcription of this encounter, Morrie's concluding remarks on the meaning of life, taught from life experience, with a sense of complete detachment of the world and inveterate cultural values. This final lecture challenges Albom and all of us in the values of death, love, money, marriage, emotion, family, regret and culture.
The more Mitch conversed with Morrie, the more he realized how much his insights of life had faded and gone astray. As the old man sidled closer to death, the things Morrie said in his last months transcended all religious differences with a profundity that calls everyone to re-evaluate, to cudgel the meaning of life. Morrie reiterated and advocated for love, which allows one to die without really "going away", for the love one created in lifetime was still embraced in memories. Maybe death really had a way to make one learn how to live. The one amazing thing about Morrie is that he decided he would not be ashamed of dying for he saw death as yet a beginning.
But beyond that, how depressing.
It is very difficult to walk away from this book and not feel a sense of priority with your life. I have, especially over the past 3 years of my own life, begun to see how insane and out of wack our priorities are as a culture. This writing from Albom will serve as a constant reminder of what brings true meaning in our lives and help young and old either plan for or look back on the live to live or the life lived.
Excellent, Excellent, Excellent!