(Image from Wikipedia.org)
A couple of friends recommended this book and I ended up liking it quite a bit. Morrie Schwartz, a loving sociology professor dying from terminal ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), met regularly with a beloved former student of his, Mitch Albom, on Tuesday mornings after breakfast to share his past and the life lessons he took along. This book is the result of that course on The Meaning of Life, written beautifully by Albom.
Morrie is adorable, wise, and compassionate. He would well up just listening to a friend’s misfortune, dance deliriously as if no one around him was looking, and wasn’t afraid of making a fool of himself even as a prominent sociology professor.
Much of his formative years was shaped by the experience as an observer at an asylum, where he saw human beings, many of them well off, acting in strange ways – refusing to eat, crying all night, or soiling his/hers underwear. One particular encounter stuck in my mind:
One of the patients, a middle-aged woman, came out of her room every day and lay facedown on the tile floor, stayed there for hours, as doctors and nurses stepped around her…[she] stayed there until the evening, talking to no one, ignored by everyone. It saddened Morrie. He began to sit on the floor with her, even lay down alongside her, trying to draw her out of her misery. Eventually, he got her to sit up, and even to return to her room. What she mostly wanted, he learned, was the same thing many people want – someone to notice she was there.
Morrie realized what people need is connection with others, and despite popular culture’s incessant indoctrination, no amount of money is adequate substitute for it. It was a lesson he never forgot.
Morrie believes that happiness and fulfillment comes from genuine connection to another, which requires one’s time and concern to build the relationship. It means to dedicate what we have to those who need it, to become valuable, and could be as easy as teaching seniors how to use computers or simply listening to a friend, lending our ears.
I’ve found Morrie’s story to be inspirational and refreshing, and hope you enjoy the book, too.