There are books that make you think, make you question your actions and ambitions in life. Then there are books that come very close to that but, at the last moment, drive you away with an overdose of sentimentality.
This book is an example of the latter kind.
Mitch Albom is a trained musician and a professional sports writer. Casually flipping channels one day at his home, he comes across an episode of “Nightline” where the famous host Ted Kopel is interviewing his dying ex-professor Morrie Schwartz. Morrie was his mentor in college and it is now time for Albom to go back to him for the last class that Morrie will ever take.
The book then hinges on their conversations on various subjects like death, family, forgiveness, money etc as the writer tries to come to terms with his own life in the face of what Morrie is going through. Morrie is diagonized with ALS, a condition which has no cure and which will slowly take away all his physical movements. It starts with him not being able to move and finally comes to a stage where he has to be helped in the activity of answering calls of nature.
I personally found the book intriguing and a page turner, but I have the following issues:
- There is nothing new. The book reads like a collection of essays from a bunch of spiritual books. If I were to be rude, I would say that the dying man’s last few days could have been spent in a much more fruitful manner.
- What is it about people on their deathbeds that makes us respect them more than usual ? Is it compassion or pity ? is it respect or a feeling of guilt ? People who are told that they are going to die in a few months or few years time will have a different view of life. As will a person who has just inherited a billion dollars. There is nothing extra-ordinary in that. Every person has a view of life and it irritates me that when a person on his deathbed talks about love, family etc, it somehow makes more sense to people than if it was told by a young man in his twenties. We all will die one day. Yes, I know that. However, that doesn’t mean that we stop the business of life.
- Somehow, “living life to the fullest just because you know you are going to die” does not cut ice with me. We are all built in different ways, we all live our lives that way. There is nothing wrong or unethical about that. This is a kind of book that strives to make us feel guilty about living our lives the way we do: in the fast lane. That is simply irresponsible.
This is not a review of the book. I am not qualified enough to review it.