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February 5, 2014

Book Review || Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

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I finished reading the novel Tuesdays With Morrie last night - if I didn't have a baby to care for I would have finished it in a single day! :)

It was recommended to me by a lady at a Hospice bookshop, and I intend to thank her when I see her again, as the book touched me deeply. I think it touches everyone deeply. And I didn't even know that the novel was based on a true story until I realised that the references to events were real, and so was Morrie Schwartz.

Morrie Schwartz is suffering from ALS - the same disease affecting Stephen Hawkings. The book follows a period of about six months (I think) from when Mitch Albom, a past student, visits him every Tuesday to learn about his life, and to write this book.

The book is filled with, sometimes harsh, but always true, aphorisms about life, our culture, death, love, marriage and much more. Morrie is intent on being present in the moment, devoting himself to his loved ones, his community, and other people who need him. He is convinced that in this is the meaning of life: you cannot fill up your life with material items, because they are not substitutes for tenderness and affection. However, you will be wholly satisfied if you give of yourself to others, because that makes you feel needed.
I think one of the most amazing things about this book is that, if you were unaware it was actually biographical, finding out that Morrie was a real person becomes the true inspiration. Having someone so positive, and spiritual, and wise really living in the world is something like meeting a prophet - it will and should have a lasting effect on you.

Here are some of my favourite ideas from the book (some have been paraphrased):
  • Love is the only rational act.
  • 'Everyone knows they're going to die, but nobody believes it...To know you're going to die, to be prepared for it at any time, that's better. That way you can actually be more involved in your life while you're living'
  • Allow your experience and emotions to penetrate you, but at the end of the day, learn to detach from them. Remember that everything in life is impermanent.
  • Aging is not just about decay - it's about growth. You will never know what you know as young man what you know as an old man, and by becoming an old man, you constantly re-experience the different stages of life because you've been there.
  • Fearing aging is simply regret of an unfulfilled, unsatisfying life.
  • 'Status will get you nowhere': those at the top will never respect you, and those at the bottom will simply envy you. The trick is to open your heart no matter where you are in the scale.
  • Your belief in the importance of your marriage is one of the most necessary shared values you and your partner should have.
  • 'People are only mean when they're threatened'.
  • Hold on with all your strength, but no when to let go. There must be balance.
  • Forgive yourself - it will make it easier to forgive others, and regrets will not help you in any way, ever.
Check out the first part of Ted Koppel's round-up of conversations with this amazing man below.

(Image credit: Screenshot from YouTube)

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