It’s been a while. Life kind of took over this past month and I haven’t made time for reading. The past two days I was traveling for work and decided to reread an old favorite, Tuesdays with Morrie.
Before I delve into the book, I want to give a shout out to my mom and her new HUSBAND, Ed. They got married 10 days ago and had the most beautiful wedding. My favorite part was their choice for favors. They donated a book in each attendee’s name to NYS prisons. That has been a major part of the planning over the past couple of months and a good majority of the books I’ve read and written about were donated. My mom reads my blog and so she chose Travels to donate in my name. Almost made me cry when she told me, but I’ve had enough tears for about a century after that wedding.
Anyways, on to the book. I first read this when I was maybe 10 or 11 and it lived up to my memories. Tuesdays with Morrie is a memoir about Mitch Albom’s relationship with his college professor, Morrie Schwartz, who suffered from ALS. Morrie was a sociology professor at Brandeis University and in the last few months of his life, Mitch visited him every Tuesday to discuss death, love, marriage, emotions, aging, money, and more.
I could probably write/talk for hours about Morrie’s philosophies, but I’ll try to limit it to just a few things. First, the idea that in death you can’t bring anything with you. Material goods are useless. Silly drama is useless. Grudges are useless. It is incredibly easy for us to read this, understand this, want to live by this, and fail miserably. Mitch writes about Morrie, “He took more time eating and looking at nature and wasted no time in front of TV sitcoms or “Movies of the Week.” He had created a cocoon of human activities – conversation, interaction, affection – and it filled his life like an overflowing soup bowl.” I desperately want to live this kind of lifestyle and it seems so simple, yet I fail at it every day. Want to know what I’m doing right now? I have this tab open and another tab with NBC’s This is Us playing. I try to tell myself that by watching some television, it brings me closer to people. There’s always something to talk about at dinners with friends. I mean seriously when have you gone through a full week without discussing the hot tv shows out right now? But that isn’t an excuse. I could be using that time so much more wisely. I’m rambling. Probably because I’m trying to multitask.
We could all be better about letting go of things that don’t matter, material or otherwise. My toast at my mom’s wedding kind of centered around this theme. I was open and honest in discussing my wasted time being angry with Ed. Anger is useless. It does no good to hold on to anger and from Morrie’s point of view, we will regret those emotions when death does come our way. Rather than anger, sadness, fear, or other negative emotions, Morrie promotes selflessness and love.
Morrie is constantly reminding Mitch that love is the most important thing in life. He says,
“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.”
I love this quote. Devote yourself to loving others. Morrie talks more about how he gives a smile and a wave when he is cut off in traffic, rather than the finger. How he finds that giving makes him feel like he’s living, whereas taking makes him feel like he’s dying. Until his last breaths, he was still giving to his past students, his family, his friends. He would listen, he would offer advice. Did he have moments of fear, moments of anger? Of course. But he didn’t let them stay. He told Mitch he would wake up in the morning and feel self-pity, but he quickly forced it to pass. What good does it do? None.
A number of people have told me about seeing therapists who tell them to “take more time for yourself.” Morrie’s philosophy suggests the opposite. Give more and you will be more fulfilled. I couldn’t agree more. Pardon my french, but I think those therapists are full of shit. Loving yourself and making time for yourself is important, but the more selfless you are, the more fulfilled you will be. And this is coming from a very selfish (almost)-24-year-old. Therapists tell you what you think you want to hear, “Oh, you are so selfless and never say no! Say no more often and dedicate more time to yourself.” Well now I’m feeling like such a good person, I’ll go blow some money on a spa day! End of day: well I feel good physically, but I did nothing for my family, nothing for my friends, nothing for anyone but me (oh, and I spent an unnecessary amount of $$$). I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel worse. I digress.
At the end of the day, love is all we’ve got. When you find people who are meaningful and important to you, love them. When people upset you, love them. When people stay by your side through thick and thin, love them. When people don’t always reciprocate your love the way you want, still love them. And with all that love, who even has time for anger?
Well, it is far past my bedtime and I’ve got to try to love running tomorrow so here are a few last quotes that I appreciated.
“As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed at twenty-two, you’d always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, you know. It’s 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.”
“The truth is, part of me is every age. I’m a three-year-old, I’m a five-year-old, I’m a thirty-seven-year-old, I’m a fifty-year-old. I’ve been through all of them, and I know what it’s like. I delight in being a child when it’s appropriate to be a child. I delight in being a wise old man when it’s appropriate to be a wise old man. Think of all I can be! I am every age, up to my own. Do you understand?”
“How can I be envious of where you are – when I’ve been there myself?””
“Mitch, 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. Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone.”