I read Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie few months ago. It was an ebook stagnant in my phone for years. I was bored at that moment so I scanned my phone until I found it waiting to be read. I read it to kill time. I read it to lull me to sleep. But ended up screen capping the portions filled with valuable lessons I wasn’t able to resist. They just hit me to the gut.
Morrie Schwartz was Mitch Albom’s professor in college. After Mitch graduated, his teacher developed an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a Lou Gehrig’s disease which Mitch described as a “brutal, unforgiving illness of the neurological system.” It was terminal and there was no known cure. It means Morrie will die. Because of that, Morrie was admitted in his home. And Mitch would visit his well-loved professor every Tuesday. They would spend time together talking about love, life and death and many other things. It is from their conversations where these inspiring words sprung.
I know most of you have read it. And I agree with your positive reviews of this book. You even recommended this as a must-read. But it takes an effort to scan again to find those inspiring words. So I am taking down some of them for the benefit of those who need them and those who haven’t read it yet, especially those who might need some motivation right now. It may change the way you see life, like me.
1. Tension of Opposites. Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted. A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle. Which side wins? Love wins. Love always wins.
2. The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.
3. 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.
4. The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and let it come in. We think we don’t deserve love, we think if we let it in we’ll become too soft. But a wise man named Levine said it right. He said, “Love is the only rational act.”
5. Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them, too – even when you’re in the dark. Even when you are falling.
6. Everyone knows they are going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently. 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’re living.
7. Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.
8. Learn to detach. But detachment doesn’t mean you don’t let the experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate you fully. That is how you are able to leave it. Take any emotion – love for a woman, or grief for a love one, or what I’m going through, fear and pain from a deadly illness. If you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them – you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails. But 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.
9. I embrace aging. It’s very simple. 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 is 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 live because of it.
10. You know what, people are so hungry for love that they were accepting for substitutes. They were embracing material things and expecting a sort of hug back. But it never works. You can’t substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship.
11. Money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness. I can tell you, as I’m sitting here dying, when you most need it, neither money nor power will give you the feeling you’re looking for, no matter how much of them you have.
12. The truth is, you don’t get satisfaction from those things. You know what really gives satisfaction? Offering others what you have to give. I don’t mean money. I mean your time. Your concern. Your storytelling.
13. If you are 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.
14. 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.
15. And love is how you stay alive, even after you’re gone.
16. There are few rules I know to be true about love and marriage: If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike. And the biggest one of those values? Your belief in the importance of your marriage.
17. In the beginning of life, when we are infants, we need others to survive, right? And at the end of life, you need others to survive, right? But here’s the secret: in between, we need others as well.
18. As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on – in the hearts of everyone you touched and nurtured while you were here.
19. Here’s what I mean by building your own subculture. I don’t mean you disregard every rule of your community. I don’t go around naked, for example. I don’t run through red lights. The little things, I can obey. But the big things – how we think, what we value – those you must choose yourself. You can’t let anyone – or any society determine those for you.
20. No matter where you live, the biggest defect we human beings have is our shortsightedness. We don’t see what we could be. We should be looking at our potential, stretching ourselves into everything we become. But if you’re surrounded by people who say ‘I want mine now,’ you end up with a few people with everything and a military to keep the poor ones from rising up and stealing it.
21. Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little community of those you love and who love you.
Morrie Schwartz is brimming with wisdom. Every single statement is an eye-opener. I didn’t notice I finished the book. It didn’t kill my time. It didn’t fall asleep. In fact, it awakened me to a new perspective of life. It made me get the most out of my time instead.
Which among the pieces of advice struck you the most? Which of these did you need right now?