A Tuesday with Mitch Albom

Two of Mitch Albom's popular and best-selling books | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita
Two of Mitch Albom’s popular and best-selling books | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita

I was such a huge fan of Tuesdays with Morrie, the New York Times bestseller about professor Morrie Schwartz’s lessons on dying and death, as experienced and written by his student, Mitch Albom. Like many of Albom’s readers, I had always regarded him as an inspirational writer whose works are “must-reads” and “must-shares.”

So imagine my surprise (and elation!) when I got a call from my Rappler editor, asking if I would take on an assignment interviewing Albom during his trip to the Philippines. My answer was inelegant, and started with: OMG!!!

Fast forward to that afternoon, and I was fortunate enough to have been given 30 full minutes with Mr. Albom. We talked about his latest book, The First Phone Call from Heaven; his trip to the Philippines to rebuild libraries in Haiyan-flattened communities; his thoughts on success and fame; what keeps him grounded; and what he thinks of death and dying, seeing that he’s written a number of books about them.

Mitch Albom and Me ;)
Mitch Albom and Me ;)

My latest article from that interview is now out, and I’ll share an excerpt here:

“Tuesdays with Morrie was a book that most people didn’t want. I only wrote that book to pay Morrie’s medical bills,” Albom confessed.

“Everywhere I went… they told me, ‘No.’ ‘It’s a stupid idea.’ ‘It’s boring.’ ‘It’s depressing.’ ‘You can’t write it; you’re a sports writer.’ Almost everywhere I went, they told me, ‘Not interested.’ And I only pushed because I was trying to pay Morrie’s medical bills, and I couldn’t take no for an answer.”

Albom’s love and respect for his teacher, coupled with his dogged persistence, paid off. Tuesdays with Morrie not only paid for Morrie Schwartz’s medical bills, it also went on to sell 14 million copies in 41 languages worldwide, and was later on produced into a television movie by no less than Oprah Winfrey, winning 4 Emmy Awards. The book has also spun an Off-Broadway play and has been able to fund a number of charity efforts as well.

I shared a lot more in that piece–and will sharing a bit more in the coming days. In the meantime, I hope you can take time to read the full article… and I hope that you’ll be as inspired in reading it as I was when I wrote it. 🙂

Have you been to any of the World’s 10 Greenest Cities? Tell me more!

Do you live in (or have you recently been to) any of these cities?

Reykjavik, Iceland - The top greenest city in the world, according to Mother Nature Network
Reykjavik, Iceland – The top greenest city in the world, according to Mother Nature Network | Photo courtesy of Mother Nature Network
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • San Francisco, California
  • Malmö, Sweden
  • Vancouver, Canada
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Curitiba, Brazil
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Hamburg, Germany
  • Bogotá, Colombia
In March 2012, a group called the Mother Nature Network named these cities the 10 greenest cities in the world.

The cities were chosen for “encompassing all of the positive qualities that make urban living more healthy, pleasant and sensitive to nearby ecosystems.” They were also chosen “based on their use of renewable energy, high concentrations of clean-tech companies, promotion of green lifestyles, laws that protect the environment and innovative strategies for new green communities.”

I’m writing a piece on the greenest cities, and what I’d like to know are the following:
  • What makes these cities great for tourists, too?
  • Are there any outstanding places of natural beauty in each of these cities? Or really cool “green spots” that have also attracted tourists? How about “green activities” that are also great for travelers?
  • If you could pick just one über-cool and must-do activity or must-see spot in these cities, what would that be?

Post your comment here, or drop me a line at [email protected], using the subject [10 Greenest Cities], with the following information:

  • Your name, which city you’re referring to
  • Your profession
  • Answers to the above questions
  • Any other helpful information
  • Your primary email address

I hope to finish the article within a week, so please send me your answers and photos by Saturday, August 24, 2013. Thank you very much! 🙂

“Why I Write” by George Orwell (from BrainPickings.org)

Maria Popova of BrainPickings.org (one of my favorite websites of all time) shares this excerpt from George Orwell’s Why I Write.

“Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living…

Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity.

Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed.

Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

Political purpose. — Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

I would definitely like to add more to this list, but since I have a long way to go before I become someone like George Orwell, that list will have to be reserved for a later time. 🙂

Read more about George Orwell and his book in BrainPickings.org HERE