Tuesdays With Morrie : A Book Review
What This Book Is All About
There is a message in this book. So pertinent that Oprah Winfrey made a movie from it for television.
This book is "Tuesday With Morrie" by Mitch Albom. The book is about two personalities with a wide age difference reminiscing about the past and contemplating about life and death. Morrie Schwartz was an old sociology professor at the Brandeis University in the city of Waltham, Massachusetts, USA. While the author, Mitch Albom was his past student. Mitch is a well-known writer and a sports commentator, been named as top sports columnist in the United States by the Sports Editors of America, the highest honor in the field.
Morrie The Coach And Mitch The Player
Mitch respected Morrie and addressed him as coach. Morrie was elated with such an accolade. So Morrie called Mitch, the player. Morrie took a liking for Mitch for being his most ardent student. And Mitch looked forward each day to learn the meaning of life from Morrie. When the season was over, coach and player went separate ways, or rather the player roamed the fields far and wide, while the coach continued with his coaching in the university. That was in late spring of 1979.
Then one evening, 16 years later, in March 1995, Mitch overheard what came out from the television set, “Who is Morrie Schwartz?”. Ted Koppel, the host of ABC-TV’s “Nightline” was interviewing an old professor named Morrie Schwartz, and in Mitch’s own word, he “went numb”. It was then that Mitch contacted his old professor, and “Tuesdays With Morrie” began.
The Book "Tuesdays With Morrie"
Morrie The Coach Is Dying
In the summer of 1994, Morrie had his death sentence. He contracted ALS, short for the terrible and debilitating disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. This disease attacks the neurological system slowly but surely from the feet upwards towards the lungs, immobilizing every muscle, until the end. Stephen Hawking, the brilliant physicist, author of the authoritative book “A Brief History of Time” suffers similar fate related to ALS.
Morrie the coach was going to die. His doctor gave him 2 years.
Morrie did not let the devastating news drag him down. I suppose, being an experienced social psychology professor helped in his brave response to his critical illness. He began to spend time jotting down snippets of his thoughts into little pieces of paper. Those inspirational aphorisms found their way to the press, and one thing led to another, when finally Morries caught the eyes of Ted Koppel, the host of ABC-TV’s “Nightline”.
Who Was Morrie Schwartz And Who Is Mitch Albom
Morrie Schwartz was 78 when he died. Morrie was the son of a Russian immigrant and grew up in the Connecticut woods, after his mother died when he was only eight years old. He worked himself to become professor of sociology at the Brandeis University, teaching “socio psychology” to those students who cared to want to learn about the meaning of life. One of those students was Mitch Albom. Mitch took his first lesson about the meaning of life from the old professor in the spring of 1976. And now, 19 years later, Mitch is taking his final lessons from his coach. This time, there will be no reference book, no exam, no grading, and no classroom. The length of the course is until death. Seems too long for a course, but the professor is going to die in no time. Graduation will be in the form of a funeral. The subject is “The Meaning Of Life”.
The Lessons Begin
Morrie and Mitch decided that the lessons be held on every Tuesday. Tuesdays were special days for both of them during Mitch’s student days, when classes and meetings were conducted mostly on Tuesdays. So Tuesday be it. Actually those last classes were not planned like the University calendar. Mitch visited Morrie on one Tuesday, and from then on, every Tuesday became the day Morrie and Mitch would meet to discuss matters of life and death. The finished “thesis” is the book entitled “Tuesdays With Morrie”. The discourse would last through 14 Tuesdays.
Thoughts of a person who knows he is going to die soon are very different from that of the ordinary person. Invariably, the thoughts will be about life and death; what is life, what is happiness, what is love and forgiveness and what is death. The meaning of life runs though the length of this book. The professor also shared many anecdotes from spiritual personalities. One such piece is that of a little bird perched on one’s shoulder asking, “Is it today?”. This book is all about the aphorisms of living life rightly, viewing life in the right perspective and to live life with wisdom and courage. Even on his deathbed, the professor reminded Mitch that “dying doesn’t mean useless; dying is sad, living unhappily is something else”.
True Values In Life
Throughout the book, the professor’s messages are nothing new. Most people know them all. But they never step back and live the life that is supposed to be lived. The universal axioms of love, forgiveness, and the traditional family life resounded through the professor’s personal life-long experiences. Perhaps only when a dying professor spoke, would we take heed. And we better, because, like the professor said, we are chasing the wrong things and being conditioned by a culture that only encourages the “I want more; more is good” mentality. What you want is not what you need. This sounds like Gandhi’s classic words, “enough for man’s need, but not for man’s greed”.
Real happiness is when one is surrounded by loving caring souls, not the big house, big cars and big pay checks. When you are dying, money is useless. People keep on running and chasing for things which subsequently seem empty; and they keep on running around this vicious circle. Life is about how to give out love and to receive. On feeling sorry for yourself, the professor advised that we cry a little and get on with life.
The professor had a firm belief that the family unit was very important to sustain happiness and life. “No family means no foundation, no support, no love, no care.” You may have friends, but they are never the same especially when you are at your deathbed. Only family members will wait by your side to the very end. Family members who are caring and loving come from good marriages. And the ingredients of a good marriage are respect, compromise, honesty, and a common set of values in life. The professor warned, “Love each other or perish.”
About Aging And Dying
“Tuesdays With Morrie” is a conversation about life and death. So the inevitable subjects of aging and dying cannot be avoided. After all, remember, the professor was dying. But his message is for the living. Ironically it may seem, “once you learn how to die, you learn how to live”. Aging is a natural process in life. The professor viewed aging not as decay, but growth and understanding. Better to accept the fact that you are going to grow old. Otherwise, you will be unhappy because it will happen to you one day. You understand that you are going to die no matter what; so you start to live a better life because of this realization.
The Final Message
The professor’s final message is this. Be compassionate and take responsibility for one another. Then this world will be a better place to live. “Love each other or die!”
Before you die, forgive yourself, forgive others. “Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.”
Now let us start living life that is meant to be, as shared by the good professor, coach Morrie.