AUTHOR: MITCH ALBOM
EXTENT: 56 pages
REVIEWER: VERAH OMWOCHA
PRICE: KSH. 1,000
Available at: Prestige Bookshop, Text Book Centre
- Plans, goals, career heights, achievements, health, wealth, family – characterise our new year vocabulary. With or without resolutions, nobody’s got it in their plans to fail and least of all, to die. Perhaps death is something worth investing your thoughts in. Morrie Schwartz will tell you how.
Morrie has made it through the 20’s, 30’s all the way to the 70’s. As a college professor, he takes a liking to Mitch Albom, one of his students. Naturally, they part on graduation with Mitch promising to keep in touch. He never does, only for him to switch on the television one evening (16 years later) to discover his professor on a TV show – Nightline.
He is wasting away in old age and battling a Motor Neurone Disease (ALS).
As a rather well-to-do sports writer, Mitch Albom has built a career for himself; but as insatiable as an ordinary human, he seeks more: money, career progression, success.
Guiltily, Mitch makes his way back to Morrie’s life – and Morrie welcomes him genuinely like they never parted. They both settle on meeting on Tuesdays, like they used to while in college.
The dying professor and his former student discourse on “Life,” “Feeling Sorry For Yourself,” “Regrets,” “Death,” “Family,” “Marriage,” “Emotions,” and “Forgiveness.”
I sat on the balcony at my home, pausing at every lesson, occasionally looking over the trees beyond the beautiful Kisii land and blinking back tears; thinking about life, about the value of the things I’ve been chasing. These 56 pages restructured my thoughts. I wallowed in the vulnerability that is life, at what Ken McFarland talks about in The Lucifer Files:
We begin with high hopes and bright dreams, with energy and drive. But all too soon the accelerating years cruelly assault our bodies, minds and plans, stealing away much of what makes life worthwhile. We‘ve only just began to live, it seems, when suddenly it’s time to die.
This is a book you’ll be grateful it was written. It might not give you all the answers you seek but it will enrich and give you meaning. Mitch cautions that at the end of our lives, only humanity matters.
Morrie’s death is not even sad. It’s exactly what we like to call ‘a celebration of a life well lived’. Everything I loved about this book, but I will never forget how Morrie let’s go of life. Not out of helplessness, but with a huge satisfaction as he says, “I want to die serenely, peaceful, no witness.”
This book moved me; lesson to lesson, chapter to chapter. I got a little attached to Morrie. I was jealous of Mitch for the privilege of being with Morrie. I got teary when Morrie died. Perhaps I could join Mitch one Tuesday to visit the old professor, and as I would feel very insufficient, I will only say, ‘Thank you Morrie.’
This is not a book about death but about living. Perhaps we do not have to be on our deathbed to realise the meaninglessness of the trivial things we hold on to. Perhaps the world in itself is our deathbed and we have to live each day counting breaths. Then we can wait on death with open hearts; with no regrets for we will truly have LIVED.
This is one book EVERYONE has to read. If only I would pin it on buses, billboards, entertainment joints so that ‘busy’ Kenyans cannot avoid reading it, I would.
- “Dying is only one thing to be sad over, Mitch. Living unhappily is something else.”
- “If you hold back on the emotions–if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them–you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely.”
- “Love wins. Love always wins”
- “Don’t cling to things because everything is impermanent.”
- “There are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage: If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike.’’
- “We’ve got a sort of brainwashing going on in our country,” Morrie sighed. “Do you know how they brainwash people? They repeat something over and over. And that’s what we do in this country. Owning things is good. More money is good. More property is good. More commercialism is good. More is good. More is good. We repeat it–and have it repeated to us–over and over until nobody bothers to even think otherwise. The average person is so fogged up by all of this, he has no perspective on what’s really important anymore.”
- “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in. Let it come in. We think we don’t deserve love, we think if we let it in we’ll become too soft. But a wise man named Levin said it right. He said, “Love is the only rational act.”
My 2018 wish for you is that you do find meaning in your life. Cheers and thank you for dropping by.