Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom

Our February focus book, chosen by Felicity.

I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It is more popular in the U.S. where it is often covered in schools and colleges, but I think we would all benefit for reading these life lessons, students and adults alike.

I am so pleased that Felicity recommended this book, and she said that she often re-reads it. I can understand why, and I know I will re-read it too!

‘A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops’

Henry Adams

Do you have a teacher or therapist/coach/mentor who stands out in your mind?
And lessons you learned from them that carry out through your life, your actions, and also your teachings too?

We don’t have to be a teacher to teach. Think about how you raise your children… and all the lessons they learn before they even begin school?

The wonderful thing about Tuesdays with Morrie is that it is a sad story but with such a beautiful message. It had been written in a way where you don’t just feel sorry for Morrie, but there is a sense of accomplishment, and appreciation – we are learning from his life lessons, and we can now go on to teach them, too. I know that I feel inspired to do so, almost obligated, as I do not want his life, and lessons, to be forgotten!
I doubt that he would have ever imagined that!

As part of the book club, I asked the members to decide upon their top 3 lessons, and I’m going to share 3 of those with you:

1. Culture

The lessons around culture featured amongst the top 3 from everyone, me included.
With community and compassion elements highlighted, the quote that ‘here’s the secret, we need others’ being picked out, bringing up connection and also touching upon embracing vulnerability too.  One of the parts that really stood out to me was when it was highlighted that when we are young, we are vulnerable and rely on support to do everything and when we are old, we also need support too, with things we wouldn’t as a healthy adult i.e. wiping our bum. But we still need that connection and support throughout our lives too, we are often just afraid to admit it, and fight it!

Also, bought up was that every society has its own problems, and we can create our own sub-cultures, based upon our values. Once we know our values, we have the responsibility to live by them – don’t let society, or the culture that you become part of, try to change these!

Women not being thin enough or men not being rich enough – it’s just what they want to to believe. Don’t believe it!

2. Emotional detachment

Even though Morrie knew his death was imminent, he woke up every morning with this reminder, after a bad night’s sleep and struggling to breathe. He would allow himself 10-15 minutes of pity, then he would detach himself from that emotion. He would get up each day (with help) and get on with his day, to the best of is declining ability.
In this book, it emphasizes that we can make a choice, and choose to focus on living, appreciating that each present moment is precious, opposed to fearing for the future, and our inevitable death.

‘Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live’

3. Love/Family/Marriage

Each member picked a slightly different aspect of these messages, but the underlying theme is love; for ourselves, and for others.
‘You can substitute materials things for love or gentleness’
How often do you find yourself working late, to earn more… for what? I’m not saying don’t work hard, but if today was your last day, would you work late? Or be on Facebook whilst watching a film with your loved ones?

Money can’t buy time or love. And material possessions aren’t as important as the emphasis that society puts upon them‘ – in my opinion, and a lesson highlighted in the book.

In the part about having children, Morrie explains how he cannot tell someone whether they should or should not choose to… all he says is ‘There is no experience like having children.’
I don’t have children, yet. So, this got me thinking about the reality of the experience, one which I can currently only imagine!
And Amy mentioned how getting married, or living with a partner, really helps you to reflect upon yourself too. You notice your own habits and behaviors more clearly… if we don’t understand ourselves, how can we expect those we are in relationships to?

I have left out many other valuable lessons, as this is only a brief summary!
I would highly recommend that you read the book yourself… It is easy to read and not a long book. It will open your eyes to perhaps some quite obvious lessons, but also make you think deeply.

And I hope that it will encourage you to take action and choose to live your life more fully, for the present, without dwelling on the past or focusing too much on the future!

I will finish with a quote from Auden, one of Morrie’s favorite poets:

‘Love each other or perish, it’s good, no? And it’s so true,
Without love, we are birds with broken wings’

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