Room with a View|Mar 14, 2005 9:48 AM| by:

Tuesdays with Morrie

Book: Tuesdays with Morrie; Author: Mitch Albom

I have never had a living teacher or a mentor from whom I could really, truly learn. It was something I always wanted but since it never came about, I went ahead learning my own lessons, in whichever manner life decided to teach me. And I’m ok with that.

But there are others who have spoken of such influential figures in their lives, sharing experiences that have moulded the beneficiaries of that wisdom. Mitch Albom was one such beneficiary. Reunited with his dying college professor after a twenty-year hiatus, he was fortunate to have a few more ‘classes’ with this extraordinary teacher who, even as he battled painfully for his life, retained his sense of humour and seemed to overflow with love and joy and peace. He used his impending death in a way that perhaps taught him more about life than life itself.

There are many such books available for the reader today but Tuesdays with Morrie stands apart because of its lack of pretence at having to deliver an ounce of wisdom… the insights just pour through naturally, as part of a dialogue, through the most basic and simple gestures and thoughts and experiences.

Dissecting such a book is of no use and so I shall leave you with a few excerpts instead.


“Dying,” Morrie suddenly said, “is only one thing to be sad over, Mitch. Living unhappily is something else. So many of the people who come to visit me are unhappy.”


“Well, for one thing, what we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We’re teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it. Create your own. Most people can’t do it. They’re more unhappy than me–even in my current condition.

I may be dying, but I am surrounded by loving, caring souls. How many people can say that?”


“Have I told you about the tension of opposites?” he says.

The tension of opposites?

“Life is a series of pulls 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.”

Sounds like a wrestling match, I say.

“A wrestling match.” He laughs. “Yes, you could describe life that way.”

So which side wins, I ask?

“Which side wins?”

He smiles at me, the crinkled eyes, the crooked teeth.

“Love wins. Love always wins.”


I asked Morrie if he felt sorry for himself.

“Sometimes in the mornings,” he said. “That’s when I mourn. I feel around my body. I move my fingers and my hands–whatever I can still move–and I mourn what I’ve lost. I mourn the slow, insidious way in which I’m dying. But then I stop mourning.”

Just like that?

“I give myself a good cry if I need it. But then I concentrate on all the good things still in my life. On the people who are coming to see me. On the stories that I’m going to hear…

“Mitch, I don’t allow myself anymore self-pity than that. A little each morning, a few tears, and that’s all.”

I thought about all the people I knew who spent many of their waking hours feeling sorry for themselves. How useful it would be to put a daily limit on self-pity. Just a few tearful minutes, then on with the day. And if Morrie could do it, with such a horrible disease…

“It’s only horrible if you see it that way,” Morrie said. “It’s horrible to watch my body wilt away to nothing. But it’s also wonderful because of all the time I get to say good-bye.”

He smiled. “Not everyone is so lucky.”

I studied him in his chair, unable to stand, to wash, to pull on his pants. Lucky? Did he really say lucky?


“It’s natural to die,” he said again. “The fact that we make such a hullabaloo over it is all because we don’t see ourselves as part of nature. We think because we’re human we’re something above nature.”

He smiled at the plant.

“We’re not. Everything that gets born, dies.” He looked at me.

“Do you accept that?”


“All right,” he whispered, “now here’s the payoff. Here is how we are different from these wonderful plants and animals.

“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. All the memories are still there. You live on–in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.”

His voice was raspy, which usually meant he needed to stop for a while. I placed the plant back on the ledge and went to shut off the tape recorder. This is the last sentence Morrie got out before I did:

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”