Chapter 8 Summary
In “The First Tuesday: We Talk About the World,” Albom returns to his old professor’s home. Morrie’s crushing illness is again juxtaposed with his optimistic, compassionate attitude. Recalling his confession that his greatest dread was to have someone “wipe my ass,” Morrie has come to accept this fate and chooses to view it as a unique way to return to life as a baby. These contrasts are used to discuss the nature of sympathy and love.
Morrie’s nurse, Connie, invites Albom into the house. Albom has brought food, hoping to help his ailing mentor somehow. As they sit down to eat, Albom is surprised to find that Morrie still reads newspapers. Morrie explains that although he is dying, he still cares about what is happening in the world. In fact, he finds that his illness has brought him a heightened sense of sympathy when reading about the plights of others, no matter how far away they may be.
During this conversation, he explains that he and Albom are both “Tuesday people,” but he does not explain what this means. Whether or not they are Tuesday people, when Albom reflects on his own life, he finds that he could not be any more different from his mentor. He works and reports the news, and although he actually stands witness to the conflicts and tragedies that are reported in newspapers, he finds that he is never emotionally affected as a journalist by what he writes about—this although he has covered stories of death, attended funerals, and interviewed people in mourning.
Albom is also struck and embarrassed when he finds that Morrie is crying out of sadness for others. Morrie gently teases his student, suggesting that it is acceptable for men to cry. He then explains that
the most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.
He also quotes Levine’s statement that “love is the only rational act.” This is the conclusion of their first conversation, and Albom goes so far as to kiss his mentor’s cheek, suggesting that although he has not fully changed his ways, he is still trying to learn from Morrie.
The second part of the chapter concerns one of Albom’s early lessons in Morrie’s college class. Albom recalls how Morrie entered the classroom and sat silently for fifteen minutes. The students at first laughed at the awkwardness of the situation before sitting quietly. Morrie uses this opening to ask why people find silence awkward. Albom recalls that he enjoyed the silence because it did not require him to share his opinion. After the class, Morrie confronts Albom and suggests that Mitch has more to say than he thinks. He says that Albom reminds him of himself as a young man.