Life's Greatest Lessons

March 20, 2009
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'Death ends a life, not a relationship.' (p. 174) This one quote by Morrie sums up much of what is said and shown in the book Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. It tells that even after a person dies, their soul lives on in the people whose lives they have touched and changed. Even after Morrie passed away, his connection with Mitch still remained through Mitch's memories of their conversations and their unbreakable friendship. Till his dying day, Mitch will remember those times he spent with his old college professor and everything he learned during those Tuesday discussions. Through this incredible, meaningful book, Albom passes on these recollections to his readers, giving them the gift of the wisdom and knowledge gained by a 78 year-old man.
It was as Morrie was teaching at Brandeis University that he originally met Mitch Albom, who was at first a student, and later became a close friend. This relationship began in Mitch's freshman year of college and continued through the rest of his time at the University. On graduation day, Mitch presented his favorite teacher with a gift and promised Morrie that he would indeed keep in touch. However, as Mitch went out into the world to live his life, this promise became increasingly more difficult to keep. Very soon after, all contact was lost between the two.
Sixteen years later, Mitch finds a way back to his old professor. He pays Morrie a visit, only to find him in a condition that he himself had never imagined. Morrie has been diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). After that first reunion with his old teacher, Mitch realizes that all his life he has been chasing after the wrong thing and tries to fix his mistake by continuing to visit Morrie every Tuesday, hoping to learn something important about life. He pays fourteen such visits, during which he sees Morrie's declining physical ability. Using Morrie's disease as an example, the professor and Mitch discuss a variety of topics, including love, work, community, family, aging, forgiveness, and, finally, death. Morrie's life finally comes to an end on November 4th, 1995. But to his family and friends that means nothing. He was a loved one who touched their lives forever and to them, he will always be there.
There are a number of themes in this book. In fact, one could look at a single chapter of the book and find a possible theme in it. That just goes to show how significant everything mentioned in the book is. There are two, however, that I think are especially important: love and death. When talking about love, Morrie says, 'Love each other or perish.' By saying this, he means that everyone needs love. If it were not for love, life would mean nothing. If someone were in a situation where they needed to be cared for, they may always have people around them, but what they need more than anything else is a person who will love them and never leave them. The topic of death also comes up in one of their first Tuesdays together. At one point Morrie says, 'When you learn how to die, you learn how to live.' He speaks of how in order to live life to its fullest, you need to first learn to accept what is certain to happen. If you spend your life trying to escape the inevitable, there will never be a time when you will be satisfied. A great piece of advice lies in those words and everyone would benefit from heeding him.
This entire book is basically written about two people: Morrie Schwartz and Mitch Albom. Mitch Albom, as well as being an important character in this book, also happens to be the author. He is a respectable person with good intents, but he has been so influenced by the world around him that his true self no longer shows. When he meets Morrie once again, he realizes that everything he has done in his life so far has been pointless. Their discussion leaves him wanting to learn more about what really matters in life, as well as to spend time with his old, dying professor. As a result, he returns every Tuesday to Morrie's house for their weekly discussions. Through these meetings, he realizes what he wants and by the end of Morrie's life, Mitch learns how to live life to its fullest. Albom thinks of Morrie as his role model, his mentor, and begins to piece his life together based on everything he has understood from their talks.
Morrie Schwartz spent much of his life teaching at Brandeis University. In either his sixties or seventies, he learns that he has ALS and will soon die. In his last few months left to live, he gives one last class with only one student: Mitch. He teaches Mitch Albom about everything he has learned through his lifetime. He passes on all the knowledge he has gained about life from experience to Mitch through a series of discussions. He lectures on a variety of topics, from family and community to love and forgiveness to aging and death. Though doing all this, he helps Mitch and changes his life forever.
Just as Morrie affected Mitch's life, everyone has someone else who has made a difference in their life as well. It might be a parent, sibling, relative, teacher or friend, but in any case, it is true that some such person exists in each person's life. So, in some way, everybody can relate to this book. Patricia A. Kossman has that opinion about this book, as do I. Kossman also thinks that 'the Morries of this world knew they mattered' and that is why they did what they did. I, too, agree with this idea. The Morries of this world knew that by doing as they were, they were helping others around them understand many things otherwise hard to comprehend. They did so, hoping that their work would do some good in the world.
As I was reading this book, I thought of how significant a lot of the advice and ideas presented in the book were in our lives. There is a lot in this book that is not mentioned in many other places. I learned a lot from this book and I have no doubt that anyone who reads it will feel the same way. I usually read more fiction and fantasy and I sometimes find nonfiction boring. This book, however, was completely different. It was smoother and flowed better and, to me, it seemed more like a novel than anything else. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. There is a lot to be gained from reading this book. You will find that by reading this book, Tuesdays with Morrie, you too will be touched by the stories and simple lessons told by Morrie.

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