Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom, a reflection.
“Everyone knows they are going to die but nobody believes it.Morrie Schwaltz
If we did, we would do things differently.”
The pandemic almost turns everything to a halt. The economy is falling. The seaports and airports are closed for international flights. The malls, coffee shops, bookstores, parks, tourist spots, bus companies are all also closing down.
I want to pay a visit to my grandmother in the province and watch my favorite part of the day—sunset by the beach. But, the pandemic is still around. I want to unwind, have a chat with a friend or relative, or even visit my favorite go-to places, and live normal again. But, the pandemic is still around.
I could wear a face mask, face shield, and I could protect myself with isopropyl alcohol. But, I could not leave the premises of my house and do my normal and favorite activities without getting anxious that I may get infected. (Perhaps, you could relate with me on this.)
The pandemic inhibits my way of life, from our way of life. But, I realized I could do one of the many things without the need of going outside – reading.
Since I have completed reading all the unread books on my shelf (pat on my back), I want to share with you my reflection on one of my favorite books – Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (the book I also pledge to read at least once a year).
Tuesdays with Morrie is a special book of its kind. It is published without the intent to become a bestseller, to be popular, to be translated to many languages, or to be adapted into a TV Movie. It truly captured every reader’s heart. The book moved millions into tears and taught millions about a many aspects of life.
And, I would like to share with you the best life lessons – along with my brief reflection – from this book which helped me to re-assess the way I live my own life. I hope you will find this blog helpful too.
“There are some mornings when I cry and cry and mourn for myself. Some morning,
I’m so angry and bitter. But it doesn’t last too long.
Then I get up and say, ‘I want to live. . . .’”
I have a fair share of bad and good days. I have those days that I do not want to get out of my bed and just lie there through night and day. Some other days, I do not feel that I do not have the right to want things for myself because the things I think I deserve never happen. Then, I would find myself self-doubting, self-hating, and self-pitying. I only get up when either I am hungry, I need to use the restroom, or I am worn off.
In 2017, the year I first read this book, Morrie taught me to dive into these feelings and to completely experience them. By doing so, I would get familiar with what pain is, with what love us, with what hate is, and with what grief is. So the next time I would experience these feelings, I would be able to detach myself from them and deal with these feelings better.
And, it works. I have been feeling better.
“Part of the problem is that everyone is in such a hurry.
People have not found meaning in their lives,
so they’re running all the time looking for it.
They think of the next car, the next house, the next job.
Then, they find those things are empty, too, and they keep running.”
Maybe the reason why we have mornings that we feel so tired is that because we just keep on running but not really knowing what we are chasing. We live a life as if we are sleep-walking (perhaps, sleep-running if we may).
Morrie reminds us that it is really, really okay to sometimes take a break and assess our situation. By doing so, we would have time to know where we will go, and we would have our reasons as to why we should keep going.
“It is very simple. As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed at twenty-two,
you’d always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two. Aging is not just a decay.
It is growth. It is more than the negative that you are going to die,
it is also the positive that you understand you are going to die,
and that you live a better life because of it.”
In the book of Ecclesiastes, it says that “there is a time for everything and a season for every activity.”
And in the book of life—each person’s life—there is a time for everything. There is a time to be sad and a time to be happy. There is a time to be afraid and there is a time to be courageous and take a risk.
Consequently, there is a time to be in my 20s trying to figure out who I want to be and a time to be in my 30s trying to find my place in this world and build the life that I desire. Sooner, I would be in my 70s contemplating on the matters that involve my life.
Have I become the person I wanted to be? Have I reached my goals? Have I made myself an inspiration to others? Have I hurt anyone? Have I made a many wise decisions? Have I learned enough?
I am completely with Morrie when he said that aging is not just about decay, it should also be about growth and fulfillment. Aging may only be one thing to be sad over, but living unhappily is something else.
“We put our values in the wrong things. And it leads to very disillusioned lives.”
In social media, a viral video can derail our perspective on what life really is.
A video asking random people with fancy cars “What do they do for a living?” or a video showing off luxurious bags can make someone believe that owning expensive things is what gives life happiness and meaning.
Social media contents show that in order to feel good, we have to own and buy more. Buying the latest gadget will make us look rich. Owning a condo unit way above our cash-in flow would make us look expensive. Bragging our limited-edition branded bags will make us stand-out. These are the values that social media inject into us. But little do we know that material things hold little or no significance.
A life lesson like this is a lesson that Morrie never forgets. One of his first jobs after finishing through a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, he worked at a mental hospital just outside Washington, D.C. Many of the patients were well-off and from rich families, so their wealth did not buy happiness or contentment.
Material things will never love us back or hug us back. When we put our values in the wrong things, we become hungry for love, care, and affection. As Morrie reminds us, we can never substitute material things for love.
“If you are trying to show off for people at the top, forget it. They will look down at
you anyhow. And if you are trying to show off for people at the bottom, forget it.
They will only envy you. Status will get you nowhere.”
Life’s dissatisfaction sometimes comes from trying to impress everyone. We try to please the people we do not really know who. We are extremely cautious in getting likes and hearts and shares. But, when nobody likes us or our stuffs, we feel invalidated. Worse, we think life is unfair and full of dissatisfaction.
Everybody seems busy in building an empire of followers on their social media accounts as though they are making huge social progress. But at the end of the day, these people just want to look cool, relevant, famous, and make money. They want to build an image of a good public figure. But, most often than not, many of them are involved in a scandal. Why? Because they forget to build what’s more important—their character.
This kind of culture does not encourage us to devote ourselves to creating something that gives us meaning and purpose. Even if we attain a certain status in society or social media, if we lack moral imperatives, status will get us nowhere. So, when the culture does not make us feel better or even flourish, let us not buy it.
The pandemic may have taken a lot of opportunities away from us; but, we can still take it as an opportunity to contemplate the purpose and meaning that our life has.
On this, I would like to end by sharing with you the take of Morrie Schwaltz – the best professor I never met – on finding a meaningful life:
“Devote yourself to loving others,
devote yourself to your community around you,
and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
If you find this blog post helpful, share it now with a friend!
My 2020 goal is to read a book per month; share with people what I learn from and feel about the book. For December 2020, the book I read is Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom.
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