As promised, here’s my review of ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’. The book is a treasure that I found on the streets of Mumbai. You can read about how I found it by clicking on the link- Unearthing Mumbai’s Treasures .
I absolutely loved the book because it felt like I was seeing the world through my father’s point of view when he was ready to let go. For those who’re new to my blog, I lost my dad in November 2020. He was eighty when he passed. Morrie was 78. I’m telling you this so you understand why Morrie’s thoughts resonated with me. I wish the book had come to me sooner. It was published in 1997. But like they say, there’s a time for everything.
It’s almost a year since dad left. The grieving , the wishing that things would have been different hasn’t gone away yet. I don’t know if it ever will. Morrie says, ‘We need to forgive ourselves. For all the things we didn’t do. All the things we should have done. You can’t get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened. That doesn’t help you when you get to where I am.” Its not that I haven’t heard of it before. I have but hearing the thoughts of an older, wiser man (not unlike my father) close to death say it, are words I needed to hear again.
The author’s feelings towards Morrie as he nears the end struck a chord with me because of Morrie’s age, his failing health and his affection towards those close to him. Mitch Albom’s description of Morrie helped me understand why you’re not prepared to accept that death may be closer than you think. When the body weakens but not the mind or the ability to talk, its so easy to be fooled into believing that death is nowhere near on the cards. And then when it happens, you wonder why you did not see the signs- the disinterest in what’s happening in the outside world, not reading the newspapers, cutting off from those who were there but did not make a difference in one’s life, sleeping more and more, eating less and less. Sometimes you even want death to come for the sake of the person who’s suffering because you love them so much but you don’t really think, ‘What happens after? How are you going to carry on?’ . In one instance, the author, Mitch, tells Morrie, ‘It’ll not be the same, not being able to hear you talk.” Morrie simply says, “Tell you what. After I’m dead, you talk. And I’ll listen.” It’s what someone who’s lost someone they love, needs to hear. It’s what I needed to hear.
‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ came with answers – to commonplace questions like marriage, children, death, life, love, illness, relationships etc. that sound mundane but make up our lives, our thoughts and our actions every single day.
Mitch Albom’s way of penning the book hits home because these are questions that have no right and wrong answers and we spend our lives hoping we are doing the right thing, in the right way. Morrie’s mantra is easy, ‘ Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little community of those you love and who love you.” There’s not just one mantra in this book. There are many others as well, like one on marriage where Morries says, ” There are a few rules about love and marriage: If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. and the biggest one of those values is your belief in the importance of your marriage.”
Like this, there’s so much more wisdom in this book and yet it’s not a book that throws it at you. It’s a simple story of a student who visits his favorite Professor, sixteen years after University, when he knows he’s ill. The book flows so easily- that student could be any of us. Though it’s a tough task choosing amongst the many aphorisms in this book that help in healing, being kinder to yourself and those around you and living a better life, I’ll try. It will give you a better idea if this book is one you’d like to read or not.
- Love is when you are as concerned about someone else’s situation as you are about your own.
- There is no formula for relationships. They have to be negotiated in loving ways, with room for both parties, what they want and what they need, what they can do and what their life is like.
- Death ends a life. Not a relationship.
- 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.
- You have to work at creating your own culture.
- You do not disregard the rules of the community but the big things – how we think, what we value- those you must choose yourself. You can’t let anyone- or any society- determine those for you.
- Offer others what you have to give. I don’t mean money. You don’t need to have a big talent. There are lonely people in hospitals and shelters who only want companionship. You find new respect for yourself because you are needed.
- Ageing is not just decay, you know. Its growth. Its more than the negative that you’re going to die, it’s also the positive that you understand you’re going to die, and that you live a better life because of it.”
- There is no experience like having children. There is no substitute for it. You cannot do it with a friend. You cannot do it with a lover. If you want the experience of having complete responsibility for another human being and to learn how to love and bond in the deepest way, then you should have children.
- People are only mean when they are threatened.
There are valuable lessons from the author’s personal observations too-
- He looked you straight in the eye, and he listened as if you were the only person in the world. 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.
- As his body rotted, his character shone more brightly.
- He died when he was alone. I believe he wanted no chilling moments, no one to witness his last breath and be haunted by it.
- None of us can undo what we’ve done, or relive a life already recorded, But if Professor Morris Schwartz taught me anything at all, it was this: there’s no such thing as “too late” in life. He was changing until the day he said good-bye.
I think the above lines are a good enough taste of the book.
I read the book slowly, taking in each page, rolling it in my head, sleeping on it and then I turned to the next. It took much longer than I expected considering it is a small book of not more than 192 pages divided into three parts with chapters and sub-chapters not longer that one or two page long, written in easy to understand English.
Reading this book makes one think and hopefully change for the better.
This book is for anybody who has an ageing parent, has lost someone they love, has questions about life or is simply tired of the current rat race and materialistic culture that shapes our lives. This book is not for everybody. You have to be ready for this book, ready to take a step back and look at yourself, your journey so far and what you want in the end.
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, and 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. Wouldn’t you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you? Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life. Knowing he was dying of ALS – or motor neurone disease – MItch visited Morrie 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.
If you do read this book or have read it, and like it do let me know. It’s nice to meet a kindred spirit.
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