Tuesdays with Morrie is a simply written novel that evokes the kind of self-reflection every person should seek. Mitch Albom’s non-fiction work wonderfully crafts the tale of a professor and a student re-visiting their loving relationship nearly two decades on from their last visit. It is a true story that will make you think, smile and well up as you read the humble opinions of an intelligent man.
This short book is narrated in first person by Albom himself. To begin with he surmises the years since his graduation and like many budding young graduates, he envisioned himself being able to do whatever he chose and spent his early twenties pursuing a music career. This proved difficult and eventually Albom became a sports journalist, a very successful one. One night whilst flicking through the television he saw his old college professor on a famous TV show discussing his declining health as he battled ALS. Albom is shocked and visits his favourite professor.
When they first meet, it’s as if nothing ever changed after all the years they hadn’t been in contact. Morrie and Albom soon rekindle their old relationship and begin to see each other regularly each Tuesday. Out of their loving visits arises their final thesis, Tuesdays with Morrie.
Despite the first person narrative, it is not Albom who champions this novel, but his old ‘coach’. The professor’s thoughts about life, family, compassion and many other meaningful topics are incredibly profound and thought-provoking. The brilliance of his thoughts on these subjects are matched only by the humility that he approaches death with. He views his fatal condition as an opportunity to spend quality time with his loved ones, to meditate on the things that matter and to properly say goodbye to everyone. Moreover, Morrie accepts that there will be days that he is sad and at these times he doesn’t hold back his emotions. Yet, he embraces all the joys in life he can, often moving himself to tears with happiness. Most impressively, he utilises his suffering to teach others how to live in health and this takes great strength.
There are many lessons to be taken from Morrie and for me to spell them all out would not do them justice. I will, however allude to two. He is a person who really engages with people as he talks to them, he listens and does not get distracted. This attentive approach to people is a skill that many people lack and one that should be sought after. Secondly, Morrie borrows an idea from Buddhist teachings that has stayed with me ever since I read it. He suggests we live life as if a little bird was on our shoulder, constantly asking you what you would do if this day was your last. This approach to life will challenge everything you do and is likely bring out the best in people.
Tueadays with Morrie is a great read. I would recommend it to anyone simply due to the importance of the subject and the ease with which you can read through Albom’s words. He has a talent for not over-complicating complex ideas. Take it slowly, don’t rush through the book like I did, and after each chapter take a while to think about every lesson Albom is trying to convey.