Saturday, June 27, 2009

Books I'm Reading 19) Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

I came across the audio book of this a month or so ago and after listening to it I went back to read the book. Text is the same but the pacing is different. Reading it instead of listening to it, or watching the movie adaptation (even if I do like Hank Azaria) makes the lessons stick more. The nice thing about the audio book is that you can actually hear Morrie in his own voice. It gives you a slightly different connection to the lessons. It makes you a part of the conversation.

Regardless of reading or listening, the lessons are the key. The key to life, as Mitch and Morrie determine, is to find someone else to take out the garbage. That is, to take the time for real experience and real depth in life. Personally, I coast. I know I coast. I have developed over a decent period of time, a habit of driving myself into complacency following by radical upheaval and progress. I don't know if I can become the type of person to appreciate the slow change, the methodical progress of a disease like ALS and the corresponding progress of an understanding of what's important. I hope that one day I'll have the capacity to look back at my life and have the same appreciation for it that Morie did. I hope that one day I'll be able to pass that lesson along. I wonder though if the speed of youth doesn't make that attitude something only achieved with the wisdom of age. Interestingly, one of the things this reminds me of is Teacher Man by Frank McCourt. He recalls a time when he had the kids in the clss he was teaching write their obituaries, the obituaries of their classmates and of their teachers. In a macabre way it made me laugh. That none of the teachers died peacefully, that such a dark idea would be a writing lesson, that the young have the view of life that they are immortal while an old ALS victim had such acceptance, to me is a great contrast.

Appreciate the past, don't dwell on it. Appreciate the people in your life, not the things. Appreciate the relationships in your life, not the accomplishments. The love is the accomplishment.

And what do I want on my tombstone? I'm not sure. At the moment, I'm vascilating between "he went kicking and screaming" and "he went peacefully and content." I'd like to think that whatever it says, my funeral will be attended by the people I care about.


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