Book Review

Tuesdays with Morrie: A Dying Man’s Gift to Life

This piece reflects writer’s some of the many takeaways from “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom, that she wishes to share with the readers. It’s enchanting. 

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Morrie Shwartz, a 70-year-old man with unwavering zeal and love for life gets diagnosed with ALS, a terminal illness. With the news disrupting his entire world in a slip second, he ponders over the choice that presents itself – would he wither up and disappear in the colossal darkness awaiting his doom, or would he make the best of his time left?

“Study me in my slow and patient demise. Watch what happens to me. Learn with me.”, he says, as he embraces the walk on that final bridge between life and death, and chooses to make death his final project.

Tuesdays with Morrie is a love story between Morrie, a teacher and Mitch, his student. This love is not at all romantic, but rather platonic, that warms your heart more than Romeo and Juliet ever could. Back in their days, the duo shared a deep bond unprecedented for a teacher and a student. Over the years, life happens, and they eventually lose touch. However, the beauty of their love becomes rather more evident when life gives them a second chance to rekindle their relationship in last months of Morrie’s life and they both jump to it with moist eyes and arms wide open. Morrie chooses to share a significant portion of his limited time along with all that he knows of life, with Mitch, and calls it a final thesis that they do together. Mitch, on the other hand, knows how much Morrie wants to narrate his journey to the other side, and so he gifts his words eternity. 

As I stand enchanted by this magical chronicle of their time together, I cannot help but linger on the lessons it gives us with, some of which I share with you as follows: 

  1. “Morrie: Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. you take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted. A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle.

Mitch: Sounds like a wrestling match.

Morrie: A wrestling match, yes you could describe life that way

Mitch: So which side wins?

Morrie: Love wins. Love always wins.”

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.” 

“Love each other or perish…Without love, we are birds with broken wings.” 

“Love is how you stay alive, even after you’re gone.” – Morrie

Life isn’t always what we want it to be, and more often than not we reach crossroads where the trade-offs we have to make aren’t the one we would ideally want to. Irrespective of the point you are at in your life, if you ever find yourself in one of those crossroads, opt for love. Choose the side where you get to give love to as many people, and you get to be loved by them, because this love keeps you alive in the hearts of people who cherish your memories even when you’re not around. Choose compassion, otherwise all you are left with is a lonely life before you get lost into oblivion.

  • “Maybe death is the great equalizer, the one big thing that can finally make strangers shed a tear for one another.” – Morrie 

We all are born in different places under different circumstances. We grow up with different experiences, extremely subjective and significant to us. We are so engrossed in our own battles and struggles, which seem bigger than those of others, impeding our ability to empathize with them. Death, however, is a commonality that transcends us all and helps us acknowledge the nuances of each other’s individual journeys to that ultimate destination. We no longer are in competition with people, valuing our problems over theirs. We share death, and hence we learn to share pain. 

  • “Why are we embarrassed by silence? What comfort do we find in all the noise?” – Morrie

In a world that glorifies “hustle and bustle”, we conflate the idea of silence with emptiness, and ironically enough, find solace in the hollow conversations that adds no value to our lives. We call silence ‘deafening’ and noises ‘therapeutic’. But, is that really true? Should it be? If you ask me (and Morrie), silence rather signifies peace and tranquillity. When you don’t feel the need to speak is when you’re not only heard, but understood. 

  • “I hope that you can find the healing power in grieving.” – Morrie

We all are afraid of pain, afraid of grief, afraid of losses that make us feel weak. Mostly, we let that fear of grief take away our ability to grieve, and to ultimately heal out of it. Sometimes, it is better not to run away from pain but to embrace it like you would happiness.

  • “If you hold back on the emotions, if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them, you can never get to being detached…But by throwing yourself into these emotions, you experience them fully and completely.” – Morrie 

People are often afraid of the vulnerability that emotions entail, and so they choose to deny themselves the ability to feel those. The number of times it happens in everyday life is uncanny. How we feel lonely, sometimes to the point of tears, but we don’t let those tears come because we are not supposed to cry. Or how we feel a surge of love for a partner but we don’t say anything because we are frozen with the fear of what those words might do to the relationship. Feelings that we have are integral to who we are, and in order to be your truest self and explore the depths of emotions you are capable of, it’s important to allow yourself those emotions. 

  • “I traded lots of dreams for a bigger paycheck, and I never even realised I was doing it.” – Mitch

“The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.” – Morrie 

“We put our values in the wrong things. And it leads to very disillusioned lives… If you are trying to show off for the people at the top, forget it. They will look down at you anyhow. And if you are trying to show off foe the people at the bottom, forget it. They will only envy you. Status will get you nowhere.” – Morrie 

The world that we live in is capitalist and materialistic, and has made us to believe that owning things is good, more money and property is good, more commercialism is good. More is good. We repeat it, and have it repeated to us, over and over until nobody bothers to even think otherwise. So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they are busy doing things that they think are important. This is because they are chasing the wrong things. The average person is so fogged up by all this, he has no perspective on what’s really important anymore. We are all trying to put up a show for people we don’t care about and people who don’t care about us. Some of us are simply using this materialism to fill a nagging yet undefined emptiness that we feel, but we don’t realise that you can’t substitute material things for love, tenderness or a sense of a comradeship. 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.

  • “Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.” – Morrie 

Of the dilemmas that we face in one lifetime, the most common of all is a tug of war between choosing to hold on – to people, relationships, objects, places, etc., or deciding to give up on the same. While there is no objective answer to it, one way to go about is finding the balance. Anyone/anything that adds a value to your life is worth fighting for, but it’s also equally important to value your peace above others. Find a line, it’s thin and blurry, but it exists. 

  • “Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” – Morrie

Everyone knows they are going to die but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently. If we accept that we can die at any time, we you might not be as ambitious as we are, running after pseudo sense of fulfilment. Our choices will no more be selfish, and yet will have a lot more to do with what we really want. When we accept that we’re going to die, we become more prepared for it. Every moment is more precious than the last, and instead of letting a lot of those pass by, we become more involved with our own lives. 

Feature Image Credits: Pinterest

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Cherishi Maheshwati

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