Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

This book is jointly done by Mitch Albom and Morrie (as their final project together), told from Mitch’s perspective. It is about a student who meets his professor when the latter is slowing withering and dying from ALS. They both spend every Tuesday together and Morrie shares his views on the meaning of life, love, work, community, family, aging, forgiveness and finally death, all from his experience.

A summary of Morrie’s ideas on..

Self pity

Morrie puts a daily limit on self pity. Every morning he sheds a few tears thinking about him suffering from ALS. He stops after a while and concentrates on all the good things that he is going to hear that day. Many people spend their waking hours feeling sorry for themselves bringing in so much negativity in their daily life. It is certainly useful to put a limit on self pity and move on.

Love and relationships

Morrie says there is no formula to relationships. They have to be negotiated in loving ways, with room for both parties, what they need, what they want, what they can do for each other and what they want their life to be like. In business, people negotiate to win. They negotiate to get what they want. Love is different. Love is when you are as concerned about someone else’s situation as you are about your own.

Family

Morrie says there is no foundation, no secure ground, upon which people may stand today if it isn’t the family. It becomes more evident when we fall ill. Sure, friends and associates would come to visit, but it’s not the same as having someone who will not leave. It’s not the same as having someone whom you know has an eye on you, is watching you all the time.

Forgiveness

Morrie recounts how he never got to see his close friend who he never forgave. For many years, his friend never got in touch with Morrie. Although he always tired to reconcile, Morrie never accepted him. When his friend died of cancer, Morrie never got a chance to see him and forgive him. He learnt it hard that there is no point in vengeance or stubborn. Morrie also asks us to forgive ourselves because we cannot get stuck on the regrets of what we could have done.

Aging

Morrie sees aging not as decay, but as growth. He says aging may be perceived negatively for you are going to die, but it’s more important to understand that you are going to die, and that you live a better life because of it. We always hear people say they want to be young again; it reflects their unsatisfied and unfulfilled lives - lives that haven’t found meaning. He believes that if one has found meaning in life, he/she doesn’t want to go back.

Death

Morrie points out that we are all afraid of the sight of death. He says, in hospitals when someone dies, they put the sheets up over their head and they wheel the body to some chute and put it down. People act as if death is contagious. He says death is a natural as life; it is a part of the deal we made. He also points out that death may cause a life to end but not a relationship, or our feelings or good memories. We always live in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.

In addition to all these, the idea of a living funeral where Morrie gets to hear all the good things that people got to say in his actual funeral, the idea of the little bird on the shoulders, the tension of opposites, the short story about the waves, his idea about his perfect day and how important it is to meet your teachers (at least whom we had promised to stay in touch) are all very interesting. Morrie was certainly strong enough not to buy the culture if it didn’t work. 

The bottom line

Learn how to die, and you will know how to live.

Quotes garden

  • This is part of what a family is about, not just love, but letting others know there’s someone who is watching out for them.
  • Maybe death is the great equalizer, the one big thing that can finally make strangers shed a tear for one another.
  • There is no such thing as “too late” in life.
  • Forgive yourselves before you die. Then forgive others.
  • Do I wither up and disappear, or do I make the best of my time left?
  • Because with accomplishments, I believed I could control things, I could squeeze in every last piece of happiness before I got sick and died.
  • You have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it. Create your own.
  • You need someone to probe you in that direction. We all need teachers in our lives.
  • Everyone knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it.
  • We put our values in wrong things. And it leads to very disillusioned lives.
  • There is a big confusion in the country over what we want versus what we need.
  • Love each other or perish.

2 comments:

  1. Very nice and heart warming. Just like the book.

    Reply