“Once you learn to die, you learn how to live”
Working every day without breaks, life was getting miserable. Not only had it become monotonous, but it seemed to have lost purpose and direction. That’s when one day searching through the wormhole of books in the library, I stumbled across ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ by Mitch Albom.
Tuesdays with Morrie is definitely a book that’ll stay with you longer than you can imagine. The whole book is a true account of a wonderful professor giving out anecdotes of life as he walks towards his inevitable disease and succumbs to it.
It tells the true story of Mitch Albom, a journalist who was very close to his college professor, Morrie Schwartz. And because life happens, the two drifted apart after Mitch graduated from school, but nearly twenty years later, they were reunited when Mitch learned, quite by chance, that Morrie had fallen prey to a disease from which there was no return.
What followed then was described by both men as Mitch’s final thesis — as he spent the last few months of Morrie’s life with the old man, learning about life’s greatest lessons and documenting them into what became the book, ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’.
As every Tuesday Mitch would visit Morrie, the old fellow would inspire and inform Mitch with lessons he had garnered throughout his life. After all, who better to learn from than a man who has been there, seen it all and — most importantly — has the intellectual means to put it all into perspective and share his story?
Nobody, really, except the man who is on his death bed waiting to die, but still persistent in teaching his student a few more lessons before he dies. And this one final time, the lessons were not from books or university curriculum, but the lessons of life.
As the visits of Mitch progress in the book, he poses some of life’s greatest mysteries to Morrie (wherein some chapters include “we talk about money” and “we talk about family”), And scrolling through these pages one can find himself/herself using his/her own life and experiences as a frame of reference.
You will begin to question many of the decisions you’ve made and you’ll come face to face with your regrets. We all have a few regrets, after all, don’t we?
And one of the oddest suggestions I can give after reading this book is that you would not want to read it in one go for a long time as you need to take off from all the simple-yet-overwhelming things Morrie spells out from his meetings with Morrie.
For instance, even after knowing about his painful condition, Morrie positively talks about being lucky to have this much time to say goodbye to everyone he loved. Hence the inference being, that we only have 24 hours and 1440 seconds so before your dreams are gone, you should better go live them.
From talking about a career to marriage to death, he delves in all that is ordinary and meaningful to every human. It might sound mundane to you, but Morrie charms with his simplicity and truthfulness.
One of my most admirable things about Morrie was his persona. He wasn’t afraid to be open and vulnerable. He knew that he was dying, he was losing his ability to do everything for himself and he wasn’t fighting it.
He was patient with his feelings and felt everything fully. Not only did he enjoyed the last few months of his life, but he also made sure that he left his student, i.e. Mitch, with his legacy and cast a never-ending impact on him.
In his last moments, Morrie made us remind that it is ‘OKAY’ to be vulnerable, and although it may be scary because there is always a chance of getting your heart broken when you open yourself up to love, when you throw yourself into it, you allow yourself to experience it fully and completely. And I don’t think that could ever be regretted.
“’Everyone knows they’re going to die,’ he said again, ‘but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.”
The reality is, life is short. We all know this, but do we really believe it? We are in denial about life we are too familiar with. Morrie had the ability to point this out, and emphasize that it is too short to do things that make you feel empty.
Today, most of us are caught up in the money scheme of life. Better off than most were, but lacking the vulnerability, the community, the importance of family and love that truly makes life great.
We carelessly waste so much of our time putting things in front of these connections because we think that it will make us better off when it really only brings emptiness to our lives. What use is a big house when you have no one to share it with?
“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. 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.”
Lessons to take from Tuesdays with Morrie:
Enjoy your emotions to the fullest
If you love someone, love them with all you have; if you are sad, cry until you cannot cry anymore; so that when the same emotion hits you again, you know exactly what is going to happen. We hide from emotions because we are afraid to get hurt.
2. Remember to spend quality time with the family
Most of us have a tendency of taking our family for granted. Sometimes, we have to be forced to spend time with our parents on holiday. Life is fun with friends and parties with them; however, the bond of love, which we share with our parents, is the ultimate one.
Instead of keeping them at the bottom of our priority list, we must cherish and appreciate them whenever we get a chance.
3. Money can never buy real happiness
According to Morrie: “If you’re trying to show off for people at the top, forget it. They will look down at you anyhow. And if you’re trying to show off for people at the bottom, forget it. They will only envy you. The status will get you nowhere. Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone.” We are blindly running behind money; we forget our kids, parents, relationships, and friends.
Of course, money is important, but it is not more important than our family. One may argue that to take care of our family, we need money. That is true. However, if we do not have time to spare for our loving family, then I believe there is a problem with our plan.
4. Decide your own rules, do not let society steer your life
As Morrie puts it in his own words: “Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little community of those you love and who love you.” He mentions we should rely on our own instincts to decide our thought process and actions — and not society.
5. Marry the person with the same values as you and treat them well
In our time of need, friends may come and go, but our life partner will be with us. During sickness, they are the ones who take care of us. Therefore, they should be treated with love, care, and respect. As Morrie quotes a famous saying: “Love each other or perish.”
Hats off to Mitch Albom for capturing such beautiful learnings in their rawest forms. It is indeed heart-breaking to read when Morrie dies. His teachings will continue to live on through the book. I hope this becomes that one book that you would want to read over and over again!
You can buy the book from Amazon here.