Like his book, Mitch Albom’s inspiring talk about his Professor Morrie puts life, and death, in perspective.
Even though his book, of many years ago, gave the same message, Mitch Albom’s talk delivers it all anew and as inspirational. He describes how he met his professor Morrie, as he described it in his book Tuesdays with Morrie. Albom says, “When I came back after meeting him I thought to myself that he was dying but still happier than I was. This thought made me go back to him Tuesday after Tuesday with the same question: What do we know when we are really looking death in its face, that puts all of life in perspective?”
Albom says he was not the only one visiting Morrie, “I watched as other people came to visit Morrie…people were kind of nervous. They have come with a philosophy on how to talk to a person who is dying…they would rehearse what they would say and keep saying…nothing sad, nothing sad, nothing sad. Then they would go into his office, the door would close and when they came out they would be crying. They would be crying about their job, their divorce….and say I don’t know what happened. I went in to comfort him and ended by being comforted by him. So I asked him why, when he could get a mother load of sympathy he was listening to the problems of others. He said taking makes me feel like I am dying. Giving makes me feel like I am living.”
In his final meeting the professor made him promise he would come visit him in his grave. “Do you want me to picnic by your grave side?” asked the incredulous Albom. Then the professor told him that when he is in the grave he would give a chance for Albom to talk while he just listened.
Is that possible? Yes indeed, says Albom. “A few weeks later Morrie died and I sat down to write this little book to help him pay his medical bills and I realized in that last sentence he ever spoke…you talk, I listen…he told me everything. If you lead your life as he did, making time for people, giving of yourself to people, sharing your time with people then when you are gone, you are not hundred percent gone…you live on inside the heads and hearts of everybody you touched. You have spent time putting your voice inside them. It is like a penny in a piggy bank. When you put a penny into a piggy bank for all purposes the penny is gone forever. But when you pick up the piggy bank and shake it and you can still hear it. This is how death ends a life but not a relationship, but you must invest in those relationships if you want them to go on. So if you spend the day getting on one list or other, when you die you better plan on getting hundred percent dead. Your money creates fight, your beautiful body rots on the ground, your list of accomplishments may pale, but that voice which is yours is special, that is what you have to invest in relationships… I believe it is in every small act of kindness that you share with another human being that makes a memory that affects them. You are talking to a relative who is chewing your ears…and after putting down the phone you say if I could get back that hour I could have done something useful. But you have done something very useful. You have touched the life of another…not everything useful comes with a pay cheque in the end… You touch someone who touches another and another…and that is how the world works. Morrie was a nice old man who took one day a week in his dying days to help his student he had once taught. Morrie had never read a single word of Tuesdays with Morrie, but students all over the world are reading it…you never know the ripples you are causing with that one kind word or act..”