Review: ‘Tuesdays With Morrie’

It’s the books that I relate to, learn something from and am emotionally moved by, that score a 10/10 from me. And it’s only once in a blue moon that I find a book like that.

The moon must’ve been blue the night I started reading this book (and no, I didn’t look out of my window to check – I was reading), because this book came along and stole a 10/10 from me.

I’m reviewing Mitch Albom’s book, ‘Tuesdays With Morrie’ this week not just because it warmed my heart but so too because it was an incredibly thought-provoking read. At the crux of the text is a discussion on love, responsibility, spirituality and awareness.

‘Tuesdays With Morrie’ is a book that gives you perspective and helps you tap into everything that’s important in life. That’s what it did for me and that’s why I’m recommending it to my readers.

This blog-piece is dedicated to my close friend, Hussein, who is a shining inspiration in my life and who introduced me to this book a year and a half ago.

‘Tuesdays With Morrie’ is a real-life story based on the life of Morrie Schwartz. It was listed by New York Times as a Non-Fiction Bestseller for four years in a row and was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey on her show ‘SuperSoul Sunday’.

How many of us can say that we know the meaning of our lives? Our writer, Mitch Albom certainly couldn’t. Having reached great feats of success in his career, Mitch by his mid-30’s was an acclaimed sports-writer and it was actually in a rare moment of down-time from writing that he, for the first time in a long time, remembered his Professor.

He had no option but to – Morrie was on the television.

In 1995, ABC-TV televised a talk-show called ‘Nightline’ hosted by the presenter Ted Koppel, who from behind his desk in Washington now spoke about Morrie. Mitch sat, a thousand miles away, in his house on the hill – numb – as Koppel asked his audience the following:

“Who is Morrie Schwartz, and why by the end of the night, are so many of you going to care about him?”.

This segment is available on YouTube, along with Koppel’s final interviews with Morrie and there have been numerous publications and obituaries that have since been written about the man.

But why is that?

What both Mitch, the many other viewers at home (and I, now reading Mitch’s words in his book) learnt, was that Morrie had been diagnosed with the very same condition that debilitated and ended the life of the famous Physicist, Stephen Hawking and that he had just months to live.

Many people across the world suffer from ALS but very few, with their story, capture the hearts of a nation. Even fewer are able to look death in it’s face and submit to it.

Morrie could, because many years prior, he discovered the meaning of his life. And when it was time to bow out from the world, he was ready to go with grace.

Once the ABC-TV programme ends, Mitch sits on his sofa and reflects on the years since he left University in the Spring of 1979. He was a less hardened version of himself he thinks, and he smiles remembering his Professor, his ‘Coach’. The two would sit together and consider the wider meaning and purpose of his life.

He realises that it’s been a while since he’s done that…it’s been sixteen years, in fact. What’s more, he misses his Coach.

So before Morrie dies, Mitch decides to write to him. And when, in the final months of the Professor’s life, the living man reconnects with the dying man, (and the living man writes a book on it), here’s everything I learn about life and more specifically, the meaning behind it.

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

The Meaning of Life

Mitch reminded me of me and maybe that’s why I enjoyed reading this book so much. Maybe I took as much away from it as I did because sometimes when I’d read the book, I’d feel as though I was sat there in Mitch’s shoes, listening to Morrie’s words and learning from a dying man the meaning of life.

It makes sense to begin with that, with what you all likely want to know the most from this blog: the meaning of life. It’s simple.

“Remember what I said about finding a meaningful life? I wrote it down, but
now I can recite it: Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community
around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and
meaning. “You notice,” he added, grinning, “there’s nothing in there about a salary.”

And yet, when asked about the meaning of our lives, a great many of us will mention just that, our salary. Or maybe we’ll tell you about our large house/s and point to the shiny new car/s in our drive. Even easier, we might lift our wrists a little and flash a Rolex. Or maybe we’ll allude to some status we have. We can see this, even in Mitch!

He leaves University with all these dreams (he’d like to be a famous musician) and all that passion for life, but it doesn’t take long at all for him to become immersed in the material world, wrapped up in it, fastidious with his work and focused on achieving his way through life. Accolades and material wealth are great and to an extent they will satisfy you. Your days may be full with them even, but does that make life fulfilling?

That’s what Morrie encourages us to think about.

Love has to be at the root at everything you do and everything you believe in. That’s what gives life meaning.

The materialistic world that we live in has finessed a great many of you into believing that ego, status and shiny shit are important when, in reality, they really aren’t – it’s a smokescreen.

Nevertheless, the vast majority of us lose sight of what really matters. We’re led to believe that the sum total of our lives and the value of it, lies in our material possessions and status. And that’s for one reason: the culture that we live in trains us to think this way.

Morrie explains it best when he says:

“We’ve got a form of brainwashing going on in our country,” Morrie sighed. “Do you
know how they brainwash people? They repeat something over and over. And that’s
what we do in this country. Owning things is good. More money is good. More property
is good. More commercialism is good. More is good. More is good. We repeat it—and
have it repeated to us—over and over until nobody bothers to even think otherwise. The
average person is so fogged up by all this, he has no perspective on what’s really
important anymore”.

“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. Create your own”.

So if materialism doesn’t matter, what does? And how do we create a culture that gives life meaning?

You live your life with an open heart, do things from the heart and you give back.

The funny paradox is this: you give back without wanting anything in return, but almost always, things do come back, often in abundance. And when it does, you think “Isn’t that funny” and you have a giggle.

Morrie’s lessons were a welcome reminder of a few of the lessons that I have over the last few years learnt about life and it’s meaning. For a man who had all the answers, there was one line in the book in particular, in an interview with Koppel, that made my eyes water. It shows some weakness – human weakness – even in the man who had all the answers.

Mitch, you’ll be pleased to know, did find the meaning of his life and is out there living out his purpose. After I finished reading the book, I Googled Mitch and I laughed – Mitch is worth $10 million. I laughed because I half-expected that because Mitch gave me humble vibes throughout and his wealth, though it’s there, isn’t mentioned at all in his book.

When Mitch isn’t writing brilliant books, he directs several charities across the world, including an orphanage in Haiti, where he and his wife adopted their daughter Chika.

Mitch with his daughter, Chika

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