TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE
These days I am revisiting a book that was an extraordinary pleasure to read some time ago: ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’, by Mitch Albom. In it, Mitch gets the best life lessons from a former professor, Morrie Schwartz, who is foreseeing his death from illness, and is seen as an existential teacher.
Have you ever really had a true Master? A teacher who saw you as a gem, a jewel in the rough that could be polished to give out a beautiful shine.
There are many types of teachers, we all have had teachers who we have hated, some have left us little footprint, but some have been special. Even above them, there is an only teacher who apart from showing us his relevant subjects, taught us to live; with small tips guided us sometime in our life, or was a clear example of humanity, generosity, love, understanding… Such teachers are never forgotten.
Mitch Albom happened to feel the same about a college professor, his Sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz, who he had not seen again since graduation. Life would, however, make that Mitch attend a new and latest lesson with this old teacher, who by circumstances of life, was suffering from a terminal disease (lateral amyotrophic sclerosis).
Tuesdays are the days chosen by both of them to meet and have the lessons for a subject called “life”.
This book, that has captivated millions of people, offers the chronicles of the present events and the fashbacks to the old teacher’s memories. Throughout the book we see how his health is deteriorating, and I say health and not wisdom, as the latter just grows and grows.
We are facing an extraordinary story, it is such a shame to see a good man coming to an end; though it is also an enlightening story that teaches us to see life differently, without being drawn into the inertia that tends to be imposed by the system. In short, this is one of those stories that make you bring up essential issues and leaves an unforgettable impression.
These lessons of life are:
- An opinion on the world’s events.
- Feeling sorry for oneself.
- Fear of ageing.
- How love can last.
- Our culture.
- The perfect day.
- How to say goodbye.
Here you are some excerpts:
Many people go around with a meaningless life. Looks like they’re half asleep, even when they’re busy doing things that seem important to them. This is because they pursue the wrong things. The way you can bring meaning to your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to the community around you and devote yourself to creating something that gives you a goal and a direction.
Everyone knows they have to die, but almost nobody believes it.
(…) If you get into these emotions, allowing yourself to pull your head to them, to the end, over your head even you experience them in a full and complete way. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what is the loss of a loved one about. And only then you can you say “Okay I’ve lived that emotion, I recognize that emotion. Now I need to divest myself of that emotion for a moment”.
Morrie paused and looked at me, perhaps to make sure I quite understood that.
–I know you think we’re only talking about death, he said, but what I will say again, when you learn to die, you learn to live.
Morrie told me about his most feared moments when he felt locked when coughing or did not know if he would breathe again. They were horrible moments, he said, and his first emotions were horror, fear, anxiety. But when he came to recognize the feeling of those emotions, their texture, their moisture, the shiver down the back, flushing walking through his brain, then he was able to say “Ok. This is scary. Get away from fear. Get it away”.
I thought about how often I needed this in everyday life. How we feel lonely, sometimes to the point of tears, but we do not let those tears out because we should not mourn. Or how we feel a surge of love for our partner, but we do not say anything because we have this paralyzing fear of the consequences that could have those words on the relationship.
Morrie’s approach was exactly the opposite. Open the faucet. Wash with emotion up. It will not hurt. It can only help. If you let fear in, if you wear it as a normal shirt, then you can say to yourself: “Well, it’s just fear, I have to let it control me then I can see it for what it is”.
One afternoon I was complaining about the confusion of my own age, of the opposition between what is expected of me and what I want myself.
–Have I mentioned the tension of opposites? –he asks.
–The tension of opposites?
–Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing but you are forced to do something different. Something hurts you, but you know you should not certify thee. You take for granted certain things even though you know you should not make any assumptions.
It is an opposite voltage as a rubber band stretched. And most of us live somewhere in between.
Something like wrestling –I say.
–A wrestling bout –he says, laughing. Yes, life could be described as that.
–Which side wins then? I ask.
–Which side wins?
He smiles, his eyes full of wrinkles, his crooked teeth.
–Love does. Love always wins.
This is a book that should be read by those who want to hear the latest life lessons from someone who knew how to live: friendship, values, loss, illness twisted this existential vision that makes us not lose hope in the best of human beings.