Tuesdays with Morrie
About the Book
To paraphrase the poet Robert Burns, "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray." But maybe some of us have to go astray to land eventually on target.
Take Mitch Albom. As a young man graduating from Brandeis University, he made promises easily. Keeping them was another story.
"You'll stay in touch?", his sociology professor Morrie Schwartz asked him on graduation day in 1979. Mitch answered his favorite professor, his mentor, his friend, without hesitation, "Of course."
Fast-forward sixteen years to Mitch's life as a successful newspaper sports columnist and broadcast journalist. Adept at juggling phone calls, faxes, interviews, problems, often it seems while driving too fast to another appointment on an overloaded docket, Mitch has a wonderful wife but no time to spend with her, a beautiful house on a hill, a stock portfolio, and a brother he hasn't talked to in years. He lives on a deadline--too fast is the only speed he knows.
Then, one night, tired from another day into which he crammed too much work, he sits in front of the TV, channel-surfing, and catches the crest of "Nightline." And there's his old teacher and friend Morrie Schwartz telling Ted Koppel he has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Lou Gehrig's disease, and that he's learning how to die. Mitch hadn't seen Morrie since graduation day at Brandeis.
Best-laid plans indeed.
The Laws of Nature
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
This story of Mitch Albom and Morrie Schwartz illuminates many universal truths, including this law of nature. And perhaps that law has an emotional equivalent as well. Morrie's illness and death gives Mitch a perspective that directly changes his life. The very success that caused him to neglect the most important things becomes the means to send Morrie's message to all who need reminders of what those things are. Action and reaction--just look at the evidence.
Action: A newspaper strike idles Mitch and makes him question his ability to survive without something that he feels is his "lifeline...when I saw my stories in print each morning, I knew that, in at least one way, I was alive."
Reaction: After a week of sitting home and watching TV, Mitch calls his old friend Morrie and begins a new "lifeline." This one is stronger than the others he's clutched. It's based on what's going on inside Mitch's heart and head instead of what's happening at work or in the stock market.
Action: As the disease progresses, Morrie loses his privacy in the most basic ways. He can't dress himself. He can't feed himself. He can't go to the bathroom by himself.
Reaction: Morrie learns to accept help from others. He shows us a few things about dignity and acceptance as he turns his physical weakness into strengths of the heart, the mind, and the spirit.
Action: Morrie is worried about leaving his family impoverished by his substantial medical bills. This is practical and real concern-the cost of caring for an ALS patient is staggering.
Reaction: The success and the pressure that kept Mitch too busy and preoccupied to keep in touch with his mentor, enable him to gain a substantial advance for Tuesdays with Morrie, thus relieve this anxiety in Morrie and offer some financial assurance to Morrie's wife.
Action: Mitch loses his friend Morrie.
Reaction: Mitch reconnects with his brother, Peter, whom he hadn't seen or talked to in many years.
Action: Morrie Schwartz dies.
Reaction: Morrie Schwartz lives on in the hearts of his family and friends and, now, in the people who read this book.
It's Really Very Simple
Morrie's are the most basic lessons, but in a world full of cynicism, consumerism, and disenfranchised people, they need to be given again and again: Take time to stare out the window instead of at your computer screen. Laugh. It's natural to die. Love is how you stay alive.
Morrie Schwartz is our messenger. We listen because he treats us with respect, he makes us laugh, and he's learned "how to give out love, and to let it come in."
Tuesdays with Morrie
- Publication Date: October 8, 2002
- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Broadway
- ISBN-10: 076790592X
- ISBN-13: 9780767905923