Monday, October 01, 2007

Tuesdays with Morrie


I read Mitch Albom's Tuesday's with Morrie. It's a decade old book which I was able to discover just recently. And I'm glad I did. It's a very inspiring story, full of valuable lessons and wisdom, about a student and his dying mentor.

Professor Morris "Morrie" Schwartz (1916-1995) is the teacher. He was afflicted with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease), a fatal disease of the motor neuron. Morrie is a great counselor, full of wits and wisdom.

Morrie Schwartz

Mitch Albom, a sports columnist by profession was his student. He learned a great deal with his Tuesday meetings with Morrie. And he understood what he has to do in his life. Together they concocted an inspiring manuscript that widens people's perspective about life.

Here are some of the adorable quotes from the book.

Life is like a tension of opposites.
"Everybody knows they are going to die," he said again, "but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently."
So we kid ourselves about death, I said.

"Yes. But there's a better approach. To know you're going to die, and 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."

"The fact is, there is no foundation, no secure ground, upon which people may stand today if it isn't the family. It's become quite clear to me as I've been sick. If you don't have the support and love and caring and concern that you get from a family, you don't have much at all. Love is supremely important. As our great poet Aulden said, "Love each other or perish.'"
"Okay this is fear. Step away from it. Step away."

"The truth is, when our mothers held us, rocked us, stroked our heads-none of us ever got enough of that. We all yearn in some way to return to those days when we were completely taken care of-unconditional love, unconditional attention. Most of us didn't get enough."

"All this emphasis on youth-I don't buy it," he said. "Listen, I know what a misery being young can be, so don't tell me it's great. All these kids who came to me with their struggles, their strife, their feelings of inadequacy, their sense that life was miserable, so bad they wanted to kill themselves…"

"Wherever I went in my life, I met people wanting to gobble up something new. Gobble up a new car. Gobble up a new piece of property. Gobble up the latest toy. And then they wanted to tell you about it. Guess what I got? Guess what I got?"

"You know how I always interpreted that? These were people so hungry for love that they were accepting substitutes. They were embracing material things and expecting sort of a hug back. But it never works. You can't substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship.”

"Part of the problem, Mitch, is that everyone is in such a hurry, " Morrie said. "People haven't found meaning in their lives, so they're running all the time looking for it. They think the next car, the next house, the next job. Then they find those things are empty, too, and they keep running." Once you start running it's hard to slow yourself down.

"Well I feel sorry for your generation," Morrie said. "In this culture, it's so important to find a loving relationship with someone because so much of the culture does not give you that. But the poor kids today, either they're too selfish to take part in a real loving relationship, or they rush into marriage and then six months later, they get divorced. They don't know what they want in a partner. They don't know who they are themselves-so how can they know who they are marrying?"

"I've learned this much about marriage," he said now. "You get tested. You find out who you are, who the other person is, and how you accommodate or don't."

"Still," he said, "there are few rules I know to be true about love and marriage: If you don't respect the other person, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don't know how to compromise, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don't have a common set of values, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike. And the biggest of those values is your belief in the importance of your marriage."

"People are only mean when they are threatened," he said later that day, "and that's what our culture does. That's what our economy does. Even people who have jobs in our economy are threatened, because they are worried about losing them. And when you get threatened, you start looking out only for yourself. You start making money a god."


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