Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mitch Albom talk in San Francisco

Tonight I went to the JCC for the first time and it was absolutely amazing.

I was there for an incredibly awesome and inspiring lecture by Mitch Albom, the author of "Tuesdays with Morrie." (

The majority of the lecture was Mitch describing his relationship with Morrie, and how he re-connected with Morrie after 16 years of being entrenched in his own life, and his own career goals. Morrie was his University Professor, and an extremely kind and motivational mentor. Morrie was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, and decided to share his knowledge with the world until his last day. Nightline did a story about this, and Mitch was 1000 miles away, flipping through the channels and then ran head-on into this story. He felt embarrassed that he hadn't contacted his teacher and mentor in over 16 years, and when he contacted him finally, Mitch said, "I used to be your student, but you probably don't remember me" - nothing could be further from the truth. Morrie treated Mitch just as he had 16 years earlier, and Mitch made a visit to his old ill friend. Every Tuesday from then onwards, Mitch flew up to Morrie's home and visited him throughout the progression of his illness. These "Tuesdays With Morrie", soon became sessions where Morrie would give life advice and broad, big picture ideas to Mitch about how to live your life well, and how not to squander the precious gift of life that we have. He talked about regrets, and how people strive for money and fame but forget what is really important in life.

Hearing Mitch himself tell the story behind "Tuesdays with Morrie" was really amazing, he is so passionate about the issue and the whole situation made him turn his entire life around, re-evaluating why he was leading such a fast-paced life as a Sports Columnist, and if it was really what he should be doing in the world. There are some incredible lessons that Mitch learned from Morrie, and that Mitch is making his life's goal to try to pass onto others as well. The book is FANTASTIC, and Mitch has since written 2 more fictional books, although he revealed to us that a lot of the basis for these books comes from stories in his own life.

Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the lecture was the Q&A session afterwards, when someone asked Mitch what his advice would be for the young adults of today. He had a really eloquent answer, describing how he feels that notoriety plays too important of a role with today's youth. Very interesting answer and his description of how people just want to be "seen" - not necessarily if they are doing anything important or good for society or even good for themselves. The idea that "the more YouTube hits you get, the better" is not really what life is about, and this meaningless fame is not what people should aspire to achieve. He said that we should aspire to be good people, to make a difference to others, and to build and work on our relationships that are important to us. When it all comes down to it, the relationships you have with the people you love is really the only thing that matters in the entire world. He mentioned another quote from Morrie, and he said it was especially good because it rhymes!! "When I am giving, I feel like I am living." Morrie was ill, but didn't want people to feel sorry for him or to be constantly taking sympathy from people. He, instead, made a point to continue giving himself, his advice, and his brilliant view of the world to all who would listen, for as long as he could. By giving, he felt much more alive. What an amazing and motivating message.

Since this talk was at the JCC, and it's still the week in between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, Mitch said that if you are Jewish, this point should be taken as well in the context of this week. This is the week where you are supposed to think about how you have wronged people, how you could have been better to your friends and to your family over the past year. These are the most important relationships you have and you should make sure you know that, and that these people know that as well. He also talked about forgiveness, and told a very sad story about how one of Morrie's biggest regrets was falling out of touch with a good friend for an unnecessary reason, and never having the chance to tell this friend that he was sorry. These kinds of regrets are hard to live with, so we should make sure that the people that are important in our lives know how much we appreciate them.

Amazing ideas, and an amazing talk. And a lot of important thoughts to swirl around during this important week.

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