Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Every Day with Morrie

I was about 15 years old the first time I picked up a copy of Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie. It was summer and my dad had told me that I was not allowed to reread the entire Harry Potter series again (as was my summer tradition) until I read a new book, so I went to our bookshelf in the front room and started browsing. I quickly lost patience for Gone with the Wind. Hamlet seemed too heavy for a summer read, so I set that aside too. The rest seemed like nothing but adaptation theory and dictionaries. But tucked between Amy Tan novels and battered copies of the classics, I saw a little cream-colored book. The book was an old copy of Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie.
I picked it up and handled it, trying to be gentle with the cover, which was soft with use—evidence of love and extreme care. I opened the front page and saw an inscription in a hand I didn’t recognize right away. It read, “Dennis, hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. Given with love and hope that I can be like Morrie. Love Mom.” My grandmother’s spindly letters blurred as my eyes filled with tears, and I realized that she had given my dad this book shortly before she passed away. I felt an overwhelming desire to read a book she had read, to love something she had loved—it was a way to connect to her. She had passed away when I was young, and I always wanted to know her better than I had the chance to. With an excited burst, I realized that I could read the book and maybe get a little insight into the kind of person she was and what sort of things she loved and appreciated.

With my grandma in mind, I jumped into Tuesdays with Morrie. It's a memoir written by Mitch Albom about an amazing man named Morrie Schwartz. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the book. Morrie’s desire for human affection, love, honesty, and creation is something I had never really seen. As I read, I marveled at the amount of honesty the book contained. I hadn’t ever read anything so close to someone’s heart. It truly never occurred to me that people were allowed to write this way, silly as it sounds. Tuesdays with Morrie is full of the sort of truth I always hoped was out there, but could never seem to find. Morrie put many of my hopes and feelings into words that I could never find for myself, and I’m eternally grateful that he did. Morrie’s mantra—“Love each other or die”—became mine. Love each other or die.

As I rolled Morrie’s words around in my mind, I realized that I adored this phrase so much because it is completely simple, but largely ignored in today’s culture. People don’t love each other unconditionally. I don’t love everyone unconditionally. But Morrie? Morrie was different. Morrie loved everyone. I read further and fell more in love with Morrie and his life philosophies. The book is mainly centered around the regular Tuesday interviews and visits Mitch had with Morrie for the last weeks of Morrie’s life, but it is a memoir of Morrie’s life and is therefore written to reflect some of his life’s history. In between chapters, Mitch inserts short italicized blurbs, which are often short stories from Morrie’s life. This formatting breaks the intensely emotional visits into more manageable chunks, which gave me time to swallow some of the thought-provoking advice Morrie gave. On top of that, the format allows the reader to slowly get to know Morrie as Mitch gets reacquainted with him—it adds depth and meaning to the story, and simultaneously provides a feeling of companionship with both Morrie and Mitch.

I love Tuesdays with Morrie because, unlike many things, it fills me with hope. Many wonderful books that I love urge me to think and push me to action, and Morrie follows that form, but it urges with love. It urges like a gentle parent. In fact, it urges like Morrie himself. My favorite line from the book is something Morrie said on a Nightline interview shortly before he passed away—"Be compassionate…and take responsibility for each other. If we only learned those lessons, this world would be so much better a place” (163). Upon reading these words, I wept and I still weep every time I read it. It was the most Christ-like thing I had ever heard anyone say. It was the most beautiful vision of heaven I had ever imagined. I realized that in our society, we hesitate to take responsibility for each other. We even resist it when we’re pushed towards it. “It’s not my problem” is a phrase I hear more often that I'd like to admit. The individual is emphasized far over families or friends, and Morrie’s words made me realize, for the first time, that that norm bothered me deeply.

The amount of human emotion and affection in Tuesdays with Morrie is what keeps bringing me back to it. Mitch’s conversational tone makes me feel welcome in the book, and not like I’m intruding on private moments. The faithful representations of Morrie and his life touch my heart. Morrie’s words and unrestrained love fill me with love for the people in my life. Not every book leaves you determined to be the kind of person you want to be, but Tuesdays with Morrie did. It not only changed Tuesdays into special days, but (corny as it sounds) it changed my entire outlook on life.


  1. I have never read Tuesdays with Morrie, but reading your post totally has convinced me to! I'm excited to check it out. I think you could compare the Morrie's idea of "Love each other or die" to Alice's rude and harsh treatment of the people in Wonderland as her means of survival. She and the other characters in Wonderland seem to have a "survival of the fittest" mindset which does relate to Darwin's theory of Evolution that was published in Carroll's time.I think it could be cool to look at the historical backgrounds of each of these eras (I'm not sure when Tuesdays with Morrie was written, but I feel like it was maybe 90s-2000s?) and see how their different ideas relate to the culture and time period.

  2. Tuesdays with Morrie is now on to my "Books to Read" list. I think you could tie this into Alice in Wonderland with your favorite quote. If the creatures in Wonderland weren't so selfish and instead were compassionate and helped each other out, they could probably bring order to their chaotic world.