By Morrie Schwartz, edited by Rob Schwartz
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Tuesdays with Morrie was a huge best-selling book. It was on the best-seller list for years. Publishers issued a 10th anniversary edition, a 20th, and recently, a 25th. According to an article in the Dayton Daily News – published in 2022 with the 25th anniversary edition – this book is the best-selling memoir of all times. The book, written by Mitch Albom, contains the wisdom of Morrie Schwartz who was Albom’s sociology professor at Brandeis University.
But here’s the deal, as great as the memoir was, it’s all second-hand news. It’s Albom’s report on what Morrie Schwartz had to teach about life. If one wants to get this information direct, The Wisdom of Morrie is the place to turn. The book’s subtitle is Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully. The chapters in the book were written between 1988 and 1992, not too much before Morrie’s death from ALS in 1995 at the age of 78.
Morrie’s son, Rob, knew of the manuscript when Morrie was working on at the time, but then rediscovered it in the early 2000’s and became the editor of the work. As he explains, “Dad had a myriad of influences, which sometimes led to many ideas being crammed together. He liked to be all-inclusive, so sometimes inventories of ideas became unwieldy. Editing would be essential.” Help with the editing was also provided by Morrie’s wife, Charlotte Schwartz. She had previously collaborated with Morrie on two academic books, The Mental Hospital (1954) and The Nurse and the Mental Patient (1956). Additionally, she co-authored his book, Social Approaches to Mental Patient Care (1964).
Thanks to the joint effort of these three Schwartz family members, The Wisdom of Morrie was released in 2023 as an easy to read and visually appealing book. Chapters that are heavy in text are broken up into sections with subtitles. There are often stories about people that Morrie knew, quotes from famous folks, bullet-pointed lists of concepts, family photos, and sometimes even “handwritten” journal-type pages from Morrie.
My favorite section was chapter eight, “Aging Well.” In it, he tells the stories of seven different people, ages 75-97, and then lists over a dozen concepts to explain why all of them are indeed aging well. Here are some of the tips he explores for wise aging:
- Grow, Adapt, and Develop
- Stay Open, Be Flexible
- Respect Yourself, Respect Others
- Be Courageous
- Commit to a Project or Cause
- Protect and Enhance Your Physical and Mental Health
- Stay Positive
Through it all, Morrie is completely honest about his struggles with aging. For instance, in a section called “Just Letting Go,” he discusses ageism as “being excluded from a work opportunity or organization because of your advanced age, and the bitterness, resentment, and humiliation that accompany this exclusion.” These words caused me to worry, Will I experience those feelings as I get older? But then he reminded me to recognize that such issues exist, but not to let them interfere with my attempt to keep making progress in life.
This continual bouncing back to positivity and strength was the overriding message I take from this book. As a 71-year-old woman, this is a valuable lesson for me to keep in mind.
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