Monday, October 17, 2011

Tuesdays with Morrie - Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 39

For the 39th week of the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I read Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. 

I watched the movie during the past year which was very well done; and an accurate representation of the book. To me, the movie version (versus the book) is more emotionally-moving.

This isn't to say that Tuesdays with Morrie isn't a worthwhile book to read. It is. In fact, millions of copies of the book have been sold in the United States and around the world. It has been printed in 42 languages. Clearly, the message the book shares is relevent and inspirational.

There are a lot of passages that are worth noting which I'm going to do in lieu of writing a review. I'm choosing to do this because many of the quotes apply to the journey that I (and my entire family) are on with my father who has Alzheimer's Disease.

Although Morrie had ALS, both Alzheimer's Disease and ALS slowly eat away at one's body or mind. Both diseases can transform a person who was independent, brilliant, and giving into a person who is dependent and trapped in a body that no longer represents who they were at one time.

Despite being limited in body or mind, both my father and Morrie continue/continued to teach and impact lives...each in their own way.

The purpose of reading the book, for me, was to be able to see and write down the most meaningful parts of the movie and what Morrie shared via interviews with Mitch.
Basically, the book is described by the closing paragraph in the book:

     Have you ever really had a teacher? One who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back. Sometimes it is only in your head. Sometimes it is right alongside their beds.
    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.

So, each week Morrie (the teacher/coach) shared his insights about various topics with Mitch (the adult student and sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press).

Here are excerpts from the book that I want to remember:

- Dying is only one thing to be sad over...Living unhappily is something else.

- I may be dying, but I am surrounded by loving, caring souls. How many people can say that?

- So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.

- The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and how to let it come in.

- [Mitch asked Morrie if he ever felt sorry for himself.] Sometimes in the morning. That's when I mourn. I feel around my body, I move my fingers and my hands - whatever I can still move - and I mourn what I've lost. I mourn the slow, insidious way in which I'm dying. But then I stop mourning. I give myself a good cry if I need it. But then I concentrate on all the good things still in my life.

- Every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, "Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?"

- The truth is once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.

- This is part of what a family is about, not just love, but letting others know there's someone who is watching out for them. Nothing else will give you that. Not money. Not fame. Not work.

- We've got a form of brainwashing going on in our country .... They repeat something over and over...[that] owning things is good. More money is good. More property is good. More commercialism is good. More is good. More is good .... The average person is so fogged up by all this, he has no perspective on what's really important anymore.

- You can't substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship.

- You know what really gives you satisfaction? Offering others what you have to give. I don't mean money...I mean time. Your concern. Your storytelling. This is how you start to get respect, by offering something that you have.

- Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.

- Giving to other people is what makes me feel alive. Not my car or my house. Not what I look like in the mirror. When I give my time, when I can make someone smile after they were feeling sad, it's as close to healthy as I ever feel.

- Do the kinds of things that come from the heart. When you do, you won't be dissatisfied, you won't be envious, you won't be longing for somebody else's things. On the contrary, you'll be overwhelmed with what comes back.

- Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.

- Be compassionate. And take responsibility for each other. If we only learned those lessons, this world would be so much better a place.

- Death ends a life, not a relationship.

- In business, people negotiate to win. They negotiate to get what they want. Maybe you're used to that. Love is different. Love is when you are as concerned about someone else's situation as you are about your own.

In terms of Mitch's perspective, he wrote some interesting things as well:

- Morrie might have died without ever seeing me again.  I had no good excuse for this, except the one that everyone these days seems to have. I had become too wrapped up in the siren song of my own life. I was busy.

- Morrie's love for music was strong even before he got sick, but now it was so intense, it moved him to tears.

- Morrie had always been taken with simple pleasures, singing, laughing, dancing. Now, more than ever, material things held little or no significance. When people die, you always hear the expression "You can't take it with you." Morrie seemed to know that a long time ago.

- Morrie believed in the inherent good of people.  But he also saw what they could become.
- Sometimes, when you're losing someone you hang on to whatever tradition you can.

Morrie referenced Marcus Aurelius (a philosopher) in an interview with Ted Koppel. In looking at some of the quotes attributed to Aurelius, it is clear why Morrie liked him. These are some quotes that seem to fit with the lessons in Tuesdays with Morrie:

- Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look there.

- Waste no more time talking about great souls and how they should be. Become one yourself!

- The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.

- Think not disdainfully of death, but look on it with favor; for even death is one of the things that Nature wills.

- Very little is needed to make a happy life.

1 comment:

germandolls said...

I read that book long time ago. It's really lovely! Thanks for the reminder. Maybe I will reread it.