Author Mitch Albom Kicks Off Lecture Series
Life’s path can be influenced by something as simple as a handful of days.
Such was the case for bestselling author Mitch Albom, known best for Tuesday’s With Morrie, a tale of time he spent with his former sociology professor who was dying of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, known colloquially as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” for the legendary New York Yankee who wasted away from the illness in 1941.
Albom, who spoke in the Edgerton Center to an overflowing audience Monday night during the first Student Affairs Lecture of the academic year, told students that he was standing before them because of six or seven days that changed the course of his life. The significance of those days was lost to him at the time, he said. But over the past 30 years, those days have crystallized into a picture of how what seem to be small moments are sometimes the most significant that we face.
“It was a series of accidents that took place on a single day,” Albom said of how he met Morrie. “A series of single days — things that happened on those days — led me to standing here in font of you.”
His path to Sacred Heart began in the 1970s when Albom was a student at Brandeis University near Boston, Mass. He walked into a sociology class and noticed that the professor-to-student ratio was small. He turned to leave and was going down the hall when he heard Professor Morrie Schwartz call “Mitchell Albom” for attendance. He returned to his seat.
Schwartz asked Albom that day what he wanted to be called. Albom said his friends called him “Mitch.”
“I hope I’ll be your friend,” Schwartz told him. “That one day set in motion all of this.”
After graduating, the two fell out-of-touch until Albom saw Schwartz on the television program Nightline 16 years later discussing his ALS diagnosis.
“There on the screen, talking to Ted Koppel about what it was like to die, was a thin, sickly version of my old professor Morrie Schwartz.”He visited his old professor every Tuesday thereafter, and the two discussed what matters in life. Tuesday’s With Morrie was born out of these meetings and Albom’s desire to help Schwartz’s family pay down the considerable medical debt he had amassed.
“If that day doesn’t happen, I’m not here,” he said in reference to watching Nightline.
The success of Tuesday’s With Morrie led Albom to write The Five People You Meet in Heaven, a novel exploring the positive and substantial impact that an average man has on the lives of others. That novel led to For One More Day, the story of a suicidal man whose dead mother appears to save him from ending his life. Albom told students to be on the lookout for opportunities that seem insignificant but could change their lives forever.
“Find a teacher, a mentor,” he said. “Find some older people who can influence you, teach you things. Take time for people. Shape them. Make memories with them. And you too may end up with a series of days that you can string together like dots.”
“Follow your heart. It will not lead you astray.”