Monday, May 2, 2011

Highlights From Tuesdays With Morrie Book Review

Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest LessonFor a long time before I read Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom I had a weekly girl's day out every Tuesday and we jokingly called it "Tuesdays with Morrie", so the book became dear to me before ever reading it.

I picked it up in an airport and read it on the plane home. It truly is a life-changing book.

Here is a summary of some of my favorite parts of the book:

Morrie danced by himself.

He used to go to this church in Harvard Square every Wednesday night for something called "Dance Free"....whatever music was playing, that's the music to which he danced. No one there knew he was a prominent doctor of sociology with years of experience as a college professor and several well-respected books. They just though he was some old nut.

He also went for a regular swim at the YMCA, but found he could no longer dress himself (he had contracted ALS), but the idea of quitting did not occur to Morrie.

"Do I wither up and disappear, or do I make the best of my time left?" he had asked himself.

He would not wither. He would not be ashamed of dying. Instead, he would make death his final project, the center point of his days. Since everyone was going to die, he could be of great value, right? He could be research. A human textbook. "Study me in my slow and patient demise. Watch what happens to me. Learn with me."

For all that was happening to him, his voice was strong and inviting, and his mind was vibrating with a million thoughts.

Morrie went to a friends funeral. He came home depressed. "What a waste," he said. "All those people saying all those wonderful things, and Irv never got to hear any of it."

Morrie had a better idea. He arranged to have his own "living funeral". Morrie cried and laughed with them.

"Accept what you are able to do and what you are not able to do"; "Accept the past as past, without denying it or discarding it"; "Learn to forgive yourself and to forgive others"; "Don't assume that it's too late to get involved."

(While being interviewed by "Night-line" Morrie started to interview the interviewee)"Tell me something close to your heart," Morrie began..."Now tell me something about your faith."

(In return he told Ted Koppel)"I decided I'm going to live - or at least try to live- the way I want, with dignity, with courage, with humor, with composure."

(Morrie was very affectionate and always trying to feed his guests. Morrie's favorite guest was an old student (Mitch Albom) who visited him on Tuesdays.)"Have you found someone to share your heart with?" Morrie asked. "Are you giving to your community?"
"Are you at peace with yourself?"
"Are you trying to be as human as you can be?"

"So many people who come to visit me are unhappy." said Morrie.
"Well for one thing, the culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We're teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn't work, don't buy it. Most people can't do it."

"I may be dying, but I am surrounded by loving, caring souls."

(When alone, the old student(Mitch Albom) contemplated) People scoop up tabloids, devouring their gossip, I had always done the same. But now, for some reason, I found myself thinking about Morrie whenever I read anything silly or mindless. I kept picturing him there, counting his breath, squeezing out every moment with his loved ones, while I spent so many hours on things that meant absolutely nothing to me personally. Why did we bother with all the distractions? We give up days and weeks of our lives, addicted to someone elses drama.

Morrie, true to his words had developed his own culture- long before he got sick. Discussion groups, walks with friends, dancing to his music in the Harvard Square church. He started a project called Greenhouse, where poor people could receive mental health services. He read books, visited with colleagues, kept up with old students, wrote letters to distant friends. He took more time eating and looking at nature and wasted no time in front of TV sitcoms or "Movies of the Week." He had created a cocoon of human activities- conversation, interaction, affection- and his life was overflowing.

"So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they are chasing the wrong things. 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."

Morrie warned me that money is not the most important thing. He tells me I need to be fully "human."

The things that become more and more important to Morrie as the book goes on are nature, affection, love, compassion, others who suffer in the world, relationships, music, teaching others, forgiving himself and others, detaching himself from anything negative and focusing on peace and serenity.

He only allowed himself a few minutes in the morning to feel sorry about his situation and then that was over.

"They way to be more involved in your life while you're living is every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks,'Is today the day I die? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?" Strip away all the "stuff" and focus on the essentials. You might have to make room for some more spiritual things.

Family becomes more important, nature, relationships. Notice people. Acknowledge them. Be there for them. Don't let anyone fall through the cracks. Be fully present with others.

Accept ageing. Don't battle against getting older or you're always going to be unhappy, because it will happen anyhow. Accept who you are and revel in that. This is your time to be the age you are now. Find what is good and beautiful about the age you are now.

The closer he gets to good-bye, the more he seems to feel we are all creatures in the same forest. "The problem is that we don't believe we are as much alike as we are. Whites and blacks, Catholics and Protestants, men and women. If we saw each other as more alike, we might be very eager to join in one big human family in this world, and to care about that family the way we care about our own.


opeoluwa oluwasegun said...


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