#15 Tuesdays with Morrie

One of the questions Tim Ferriss always asks his guests on his podcast is, “What book have you gifted the most (or reread)?”

For me, only one book comes to mind: Tuesdays with Morrie.  

I was introduced to this book during college, in my psychology class, which I only took because I heard it’s an easy A.  The funny thing is I actually completely forgot about the reading assignment and walked into an exam for the book!  However, the professor curiously asked if anyone didn’t read the book, and I saw about half a dozen hands go up in the air including mine.  She kindly asked us to come back and take the exam during the next class.  It was as if she knew how impactful this book is going to be.  Unfortunately, I’ve never been a reader even to this current day.  However, when I started reading this book, which started as an assignment, I couldn’t put it down until I finished it.  It’s not a long book nor a difficult book to comprehend by any means,  but for me to connect with a book like Tuesdays with Morrie was an unfamiliar feat.  I just finished rereading it…probably for the third or the fourth time.  I’ve never reread anything once yet I found myself reaching for this book several times in the last decade.  Perhaps, it is because the book is about the meaning of life, and each time I read it I’m able to take away a different message & lesson.

Tuesdays with Morrie is essentially an interview between Morrie, a university psychology professor, and one of his former students, Mitch Albom, a writer.   The “interviews” are held on Tuesdays and they talk about life, starting from family and parenting to forgiveness and love.  The important detail I forgot to mention is that the book begins with Mitch learning about Morrie and his disease, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  As Morrie’s body deteriorates throughout the book he shares his unfiltered life reflections with Mitch.  And Mitch so eloquently sprinkles in his life stories and lessons during the whole process.  He closed the book describing the interview with his old professor:

“The last class of my old professor’s life took place once a week, in his home, by a window in his study where he could watch a small hibiscus plant shed its pink flowers.  the class met on Tuesdays.  No books were required.  The subject was the meaning of life.  it was taught from experience. 

The teaching goes on.”

Every time I read this book, I’m reminded of how powerful human interactions can be.  I think, maybe, that’s what makes us humans different after all.

“When Morrie was with you, he was really with you.  He looked you straight in the eye, and he listened as if you were the only person in the world.” 

For me, Ted [Koppel, The host of The Nightline], living means I can be responsive to the other person.  It means I can show my emotions and my feelings.  Talk to them.  Feel with them…”

“In the beginning of life, when we are infants, we need others to survive, right? And at the end of life, when you get like me, you need others to survive, right?…But here’s the secret: in between, we need each other as well.”

There are many more lessons and values I got from (re)reading this book but if I had to share one maybe this is it:

“We also need to forgive ourselves…

For all the things we didn’t do.  All the things we should have done.  You can’t get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened…

I always wished I had done more with my work; I wished I had written ten more books.  I used to beat myself up over it.  Now I see that never did any good.  Make peace.  You need to make peace with yourself and everyone around you.”

When things are well said no explanations are needed, and perhaps that’s why I love this book.  Instead of me adding on to the quotes above, I feel comfortable leaving them as is for whoever reads this post to take away Morrie’s message.  However, rather than me quoting the whole book, I’ll just recommend reading this book.

Tuesdays with Morrie Book Cover

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