Learn how to die and you learn how to live ~ Morrie Schwartz
Based on a true story, this little book is not a typical self management book but a journey. As an old professor Morrie Schwartz moves along with his life crippled by ALS disease, his student, Mitch Albom follows him to the end of his life and parallely narrates the journey to us. The book is so beautifully and poignantly written that the reader also becomes a part of the class room where a dying professor gives some of the most valuable lessons of life to his only student. I think the reason this book touches you very deeply is that it is drawn from personal experiences.
The book is a reunion of two old friends (a professor and a student) who meet after sixteen long years. Mitch, the author, is now a sports columnist with Detroit Free Press. He graduated from Brandeis University in 1979 and promised his Sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz (whom Mitch fondly calls his coach and holds in high reverence) that he would keep in touch with him. Mitch got too busy with his work, ambitions and money that he completely lost track of his graduation friends and teachers and did not contact anybody. Not even Morrie.
It happened only that night when while flipping through the different channels, Mitch saw his old professor on Nightline show. There he learnt that he was dying of ALS. Mitch now feels sorry for not calling up his professor and decides to meet him. In the meantime his newspaper agency shuts down as the union goes on a strike and Mitch gets time to see his professor. This is the beginning of the classes Mitch takes with his ailing yet strong and wise professor and compiles them in ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’.
The meeting that started with a formal visit gets turned into a ceremonial practice that now Mitch and Morrie, both enthusiastically look forward to. On one such meeting, Mitch makes a list of few things he wants his teacher to speak on. The list includes: Death, Fear, Aging, Greed, Marriage, Family, Society, Forgiveness and a meaningful life.
The book contains many important lessons in a very simple, comprehensible language and that is what makes this book a masterpiece. Also the teachings are very real and practical – drawn from personal experiences.
Before meeting his professor, Mitch was a person who never thought about the meaning of his life and after he spent sixteen Tuesdays with his mentor, he claims he is a different person altogether.
Some of the many priceless teachings that I took away from the book are:
1. “Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted.”
“Which side wins?” “Love wins. Love always wins.”
2. “Let love come in. We think we don’t deserve love, we think if we let it in we’ll become too soft. But a wise man named Levine said it right. He said, ‘Love is the only rational act..’”
3. “Learn how to die, and you learn how to live.”
4. “This is part of what a family is about, nit just love, but letting others know there’s someone who is watching out for them. It’s what I missed so much when my mother died – what I call your ‘spiritual security’ – knowing that your family will be there watching out for you. Nothing else will give you that. Not money. Not fame.”
5. “Turn on the faucet. Wash yourself with the emotion. It won’t hurt you. It will only help. If you let the fear inside, if you pull it on like a familiar shirt, then you say to yourself, ‘All right, it’s just fear, I don’t have to let it control me. I see it for what it is.’”
6. “I embrace aging. It’s very simple. As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed at twenty-two, you would always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, its growth. It’s more than the negative that you’re going to die, it’s also the positive that you understand you’re going to die, and that you live a better life because of it. ”
7. “If you have found meaning in your life, you don’t want to go back. You want to move forward. You want to see more, do more.”
8. “Forgive yourself before you die. Then forgive others.”
9. “If you’re trying to show off for people at the top, forget it. They will look down at you anyhow. And if you’re trying to show off for people at the bottom, forget it. They will only envy you. Status will get you nowhere.”
10. “There are a few rules that are 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 lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike. ”
The book contains much more profound wisdom than the ones listed above. Read it right now and gain a new perspective on life!
The moment I finished the book, I asked myself, ‘Am I ready to die? Or how am I going to die?’
That’s the magic of the book. It makes and lets you ask some basic, meaningful questions that you would not have asked otherwise.
I must confess that since the time I have read the book, my approach towards life has changed.
I was on a ship when I turned the last page of the book. With two watery drops in my eyes, I was sitting quietly on the deck of the ship when I finished it. I closed my eyes for a while and reminded myself of a few things I still needed to do. Suddenly I looked back and saw some bright light in one corner of the milky sky.
I immediately clicked it. (This is how it looked).
If you wish to buy the book, please buy using the link below. It will take you directly to Flipkart’s page and I will get a very small commission on the purchase of the book.