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Revisiting "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom

Originally written to help pay a dying man's medical expenses, Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is said to be the best-selling memoir of all time. Why has this story about an elderly professor dying of Lou Gehrig's disease resonated with so many people all over the world?

author Mitch Albom
author Mitch Albom
Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Maybe it's because of the aphorisms that Morrie Schwartz shares. Morrie is a sociology professor viewing the world from the perspective of a man on his way out. On Tuesday meetings with one of his former favorite students, sportswriter Mitch Albom, Morrie passes on timeless words of wisdom. Among these are:

  • “Accept what you are able to do and what you are not able to do.”
  • “Accept the past as past, without denying it or discarding it.”
  • Love is the only rational act.”
  • “Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”
  • “Don’t cling to things, because everything is impermanent.”
  • “ . . . love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.”
  • “Love each other or perish.”
  • “Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.”
  • "Forgive yourself before you die. Then forgive others.”
  • Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

Perhaps the book resonates with readers around the globe because many readers identify with the not-touchy-feely Mitch, and then those readers come to wholly accept, as Mitch does in the book, all of Morrie's wisdom as universal truths that should be shared with others. Morrie Schwartz was not the first or the only one to say any of the wise words. But he did say them, and he meant what he said. And Mitch shared them with us by writing a book for a good cause. And, just maybe, Albom has inspired more than a few students to become sociologists.

Sure, we know that every person on the planet will die someday. Tuesdays with Morrie shows readers that only those who accept the inevitability of death truly know how to live. No one wants to think about death. Some people live in fear of it. Reading Morrie's downward spiral toward death forces us to consider our own mortality. Facing the fact that death will come for each of us could help us accept that it is inevitable. The book reminds readers that, given the knowledge and power of that acceptance, "love is the only rational act."

"Life without love, is no life at all." ~Leonardo da Vinci

In the book, Albom mentions that W.H. Auden is Morrie's favorite poet. You can read the poem from which Morrie derives his mantra "love or perish" here and an analysis of it here.

Find more quotes from Tuesdays with Morrie here.

Find the book here.

Readers of Tuesdays with Morrie who start living better because of an acceptance of death and dying, will likely see Morrie in every pink hibiscus plant they encounter from the day they finish the book forward.