Do you every get a feeling of transcendence, of something bigger than ‘you’…maybe that you were supposed to be in a certain place, meet a certain person, learn a certain thing, read a certain book? ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ by Mitch Albom was one of those moments for me…it totally got me in a way that very few books have. I read it in three sittings over two days, soaking up each and every word…it may well be a short book compared to most, but that’s quite an achievement for me…I may be an avid reader but I can be slow. It’s testament to how much the story resonated with me.
The first page of the book gives the reader an indication of what is to come, and since it doesn’t spoil anything for those of you that might want to read it, I thought I would reproduce it here:
The last class of my old professor’s life took place once a week in his house, by a window in the study where he could watch a small hibiscus plant shed its pink leaves. The class met on Tuesdays. It began after breakfast. The subject was The Meaning of Life. It was taught from experience.
No grades were given, but there were oral exams each week. You were expected to respond to questions, and you were expected to pose questions of your own. You were also required to perform physical tasks every now and then, such as lifting the professor’s head to a comfortable spot on the pillow or placing his glasses on the bridge of his nose. Kissing him goodbye earned you extra credit.
No books were required, yet many topics were covered, including love, work, community, family, ageing, forgiveness, and finally, death. The last lecture was brief, only a few words.
A funeral was held in lieu of graduation.
Although no final exam was given, you were expected to produce one long paper on what was learned. That paper is presented here.
The last class of my old professor’s life had only one student.
I was the student.”
This book covers many important life issues and questions and offers both thought provoking and comforting answers. There were some particularly interesting parts for me that were congruent with my own values, which I thought I would share:
LOVE AND COMPASSION
“Be compassionate. And take responsibility for each other. Love each other or perish.”
“Have you ever really had a teacher? One who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom, could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back. Sometimes it is only in your head. Sometimes it is right alongside their beds.”
“Everyone is in such a hurry…people haven’t found the meaning in their lives, so they’re running all the time looking for it – the next car, house, job. Then they find those things are empty too, and they keep running.
[Mitch responds that once you start running it’s hard to slow yourself down.]
“‘Not so hard,’ he said, shaking his head, ‘Do you know what I would do? When someone wants to get ahead of me in traffic I would raise my hand, as if I was going to make a negative gesture, and then I would wave and smile. Instead of giving them the finger, you let them go, and you smile. You know what? A lot of times they smiled back.’
“Morrie didn’t have to be in that much of a hurry with his car, he would rather put his energies into people.”
I have actually put the last one into practice since I finished reading the book, and it’s interesting! Well, I certainly feel better…I’m not sure the other drives have noticed me waving and grinning at them (and I don’t think I’d want to know what they think if they did), but what a positive reaction to choose over road rage!
I was already at the stage where I was starting to ask myself some pretty fundamental questions about where I am and what makes me happy…Rather than worry about the detail of these big questions, I have decided that I will come to the answers when the time is right…In the meantime I will attempt to live each day in congruence with my values, being positive and happy in the moment. It may not come as a surprise that I would highly recommend this book! Particularly if you are a bit of a ‘soul searching thinker’ like me.
I will leave you with this thought provoking video clip, a short lecture from the late Alan Watts which asks you to think about what you would you do with your life if money was no object. I saw it recently through a friend of a friend on Facebook (yes, I have returned to the dark side, albeit with a scaled down profile)…I thought it tied in well with my post.
So…what do you desire?
Until next time, love and resonating reads, sm x