Book Summary: Tuesdays with Morrie: an old man, a young man and life’s greatest lesson

Upon asking a vivid reader for suggesting a book that is short and sweet, my colleague recommended me, “Tuesdays with Morrie”. I finished it in 3 days, and I liked it. This writing, more than a summary is a collection of texts from the book that I liked and would someday come back to it. I seldomly do so, and every time that I’ve done, it has fuelled me with energy that I longed for.

Context: Mitch, as he is referred to by his professor Morrie, is a writer of this book. He comes to find out that his professor has Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neuromuscular disease that is slowly taking away his life. The circumstances make Mitch and his professor cross path again. After his first visit, he decides to meet him every Tuesday, just like sixteen years back when he had studied sociology classes with him, and they called themselves “Tuesday people”. In every visit, Mitch asks about various facets of life. His dying professor answers him, what life has taught him.

Morrie asks Mitch on what he wanted to become in his life and compares it with what he is doing now. He brings on this concept of “Tension of opposites”. He says,

Life is a series of pull, 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.

One important thing that Morrie considers that life has taught him is to love. He says, the most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come it. He says,

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. You live on – in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here. Death ends a life, not a relationship.

The student and his professor delve into the meaning of life, culture, forgiveness, fear of aging, death, marriage, and many more.

Morrie finds “dying” not to be synonymous with “useless” and therefore the remaining time that he has, he wants to give. He wants to give lessons to the people who are running towards materialistic things. According to the author, the book was actually an idea of Morrie who considers it to be the last thesis of Mitch.

People haven’t found meaning in their lives, so they’re running all the time looking for it. They think the next car, the next house, the next job. Then they find those things empty too, and they keep running. Once you start running, it’s hard to slow yourself down.

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.

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.

Morrie also sheds light upon the culture that we have been brought up with.

We don’t believe we are as much alike as we are. Whites and blacks, Catholics and protestants, men and women. If we saw each other as more alike, we might be very eager to join in one big human family in this world and to care about that family the way we care about our own.

Be compassionate. And take responsibility for each other. If we only learned these lessons, this world would be so much better a place.

Mitch talks about marriage and seeks opinion of his coach. His professor had a successful marriage life and had two sons, to which he loved dearly.

There are a 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. The biggest value in the importance of your marriage.

Morrie dies serenely as he had wished for. He was buried in a hill, nearby a pond, that he had chosen before his death. He told Mitch to visit him every Tuesday and tell him his problems, and at that time he will listen and let Mitch speak.

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