A BOOK WITH LIFE LESSONS ON FAMILY, ACCEPTANCE AND DETACHMENT
I am glad that the lockdown gave me a chance to revisit one of my favorite books, Tuesdays with Morrie. Here I’m sharing what I learnt from the book.
This book was written by American author, Mitch Albom and first published in 1997. It is a true story based on the author’s visits to his former professor Morrie Schwartz, who used to be his favorite professor back in university. After many years of graduation, Mitch comes to know that Morrie was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a deadly disease of the neural system, which had no cure. He decides to visit Morrie and then the visits become weekly.
Every Tuesday, Mitch visited Morrie and they had deep discussions about the important themes of life: friendship, love, loss, death and so on. Mitch always brought along a tape recorder so that he could listen to Morrie, even after he is gone. As the weeks pass, Morrie’s body grows weaker, though he fights every day to stay positive. As Mitch watches him suffer, his own heart gets stronger. He begins to reconnect with his emotions and thinks deeply about the aspects of life. He tries his best to help and take care of Morrie, to show his concern for him. Finally, on the fourteenth Tuesday, they have to say good-bye. Morrie passes away a few days later.
Mitch’s heart brims with gratitude for what Morrie did for him, and looking back, he only has one regret: that he didn’t reach out to Morrie earlier. If he had, they would have had more Tuesdays together.
Every page offers something beautiful to ponder about. Some of my key learning from those were:
1. Family is real happiness
In the discussion on family, Morrie points out how material possessions, money and, fame can never bring true happiness. It’s only our loved ones who make our life complete. He mentions a quote, ‘Love each other or perish’, which I think is so true. Knowing that you have people in your life who have always got your back and love you no matter what is the best feeling! In the current lockdown, my love for my family has only grown more, it is the safest place to be, and I am simply grateful to have them.
2. Detachment through acceptance
Morrie derives this philosophy of detaching himself from experiences from Buddhism which says that one should not cling to anything as everything in the world is impermanent. People, things, experiences, nothing is permanent, hence, there is no point trying to hold on to anything.
To this, Mitch questions, ‘Aren’t you always talking about experiencing life? All the good emotions, all the bad ones? Well, how can you do that if you’re detached?’ Morrie gently replies, ‘Ah. You’re thinking, Mitch. But detachment doesn’t mean you don’t let the experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate you fully. That’s how you are able to leave it.’
‘By throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only then can you say: All right. I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment. Like, okay, this is fear, step away from it.’ He emphasizes accepting and seeing things for what they are, without trying to control them.
3. Understand death to live fully
On the fourth Tuesday, they talk about death. Morrie says, ‘Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.’ That’s indeed a profound idea to think about. He tries to convey that once you lose the fear of death, you can live each moment to it’s fullest when you’re alive. ‘Everyone knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently…here’s a better approach. To know you’re going to die, and to be prepared for it at any time. That’s better. That way you can actually be more involved in your life while you are living.’
Tuesdays with Morrie is surely a book that will stay with you and touch the deepest strings of your heart. It is difficult to finish it in one go, and I suggest you not to as every conversation is deep and meaningful and needs time and attention to absorb.
In these times of lockdown, this book enabled me to reflect on the decisions I am taking in life and again made me want to hug Morrie. It made me appreciate my life even more and feel grateful for my healthy life and loving family.
If there is one heart-touching book you want to go for, it has to be this!