In addition to On Writing, I also bought Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie for 11 kuai outside of the Chaoyangmen subway station. The fonts on each page are all the same size, and the pages aren’t distorted, but the subtitle on the front cover reads “an old man, a young man, ife’s greatest lesson”. Rather than excitement at the chance to learn ife’s greatest lesson, I picked up Tuesdays with Morrie becuase I’d heard of it, and because I imagined it would tell a good story.
And yes, it was a good story. Mitch Albom was a 37-year-old workaholic sportswriter seeking happiness through increasing his paycheck when he saw his favorite professor from college on Nightline dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease. He sought out his professor, and began a dialogue on life and death.
Ife’s greatest lesson seems to be that only when you learn how to die do you learn how to live. That point probably could have been made by simply repeating one sentence a few times, but there’s much more to the story. In many ways, Tuesdays with Morrie is similar to On Writing, in that they both tell personal stories of lessons learned, and the view of the process experienced by the authors (and their subjects) is at least as valuable as the points made.
I don’t know how to die, and simply saying “live each day as if it’s your last” doesn’t resonate with me all that much, but Tuesdays with Morrie did.