After a multimillion copy bestseller and a blockbuster movie starring Jack Lemmon, is there anyone who doesn’t know the name of Morrie Schwartz? Mitch Albom’s beautiful book, Tuesdays with Morrie, made the retired professor of sociology at Brandeis University famous.
In this thick, engaging collection of Morrie’s own writings, compiled by his son, Rob Schwartz, Morrie’s wisdom comes alive once again. Rob explains in the opening paragraph of his foreword: “I rediscovered this manuscript … well after my dad has passed away. It was tucked in a desk drawer in his study.” The many millions of people who read Tuesdays with Morrie will want to turn here, as well. We found the book particularly relevant for readers in the final third of life.
Here are a few selections.
On aging: “One of the best things about growing older is that no boss is looking over your shoulder, telling you what to do. Most of us have more control over our time now than ever before. And when we face new challenges, we encounter fewer external rewards or penalties, leaving us with only those that we give ourselves. We can, however, experience the inner satisfaction of choosing to create a life that reflects our reasonable and adventurous desires and aspirations, thus freeing ourselves from ageist assumptions that tell us we are finished, useless, and of little value. There is no forced retirement from aging creatively.”
On perspective and awareness: “We cannot … eliminate bias from our perceptions of our intimates, our relationships, the events we observe, and our social world…. It is worth struggling to attain more objectivity and detachment than we ordinarily have, in order to experience the satisfaction and power of being in closer touch with the truth.”
Particularly insightful was the section of the book with “I” statements of hope and despair in columns side-by-side. These included:
Hope: “I haven’t had enough of life. I want more. My life is not over.”
Despair: “I’ve had enough and I’m ready to give up. I feel my life is over.”
Hope: “I want to stay related to people.”
Despair: “I have no desire to see others.”
Hope: “It’s never too late to start something new. I try to expand my interests and pursuits.”
Morrie Schwartz seems to have lived a life of attention, awareness, creativity, and wisdom in learning from mistakes. With this book, published almost thirty years after his death from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), we continue to benefit from his teaching.