What Really Matters: Mitch Albom’s Xavier School Visit

Steven Sy (8A), Stallion Correspondent
World-renowned author Mitch Albom being interviewed by Mr. Gavin Go

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”                                             

-Morrie Schwartz, Tuesdays With Morrie

Ever since I was small, I’ve always loved reading. From Geronimo Stilton to the Lord of the Rings, I’ve read and reread every single book I could get my hands on. Books have always been an important part of my life, one that I’ve always valued. Therefore, when I got an email saying that Mitch Albom, world-renowned author, was coming to Xavier School for an interview, I was beside myself with excitement.

American author Mitch Albom has written famous and moving books such as: Tuesdays with Morrie, For One More Day, and most recently, The First Phone Call From Heaven. All of his novels have earned their spot on the New York Times Bestselling List, holding their position on the list for a lengthy period of time. Tuesdays With Morrie is quite remarkable for being the bestselling memoir in the history of the world.

The event was held in the Angelo King Multi Purpose Center last February 20, 2014, from 9-10 am. Since the event was held during class hours, not everyone had the chance to attend. Mostly, those who were present were from the higher levels, since they attended as a class and not as individuals. As far as I know, I was the only Grade 8 student who was present. As such, I was extremely thankful for being able to attend this momentous event.

Mitch Albom’s visit was done in the form of an interview conducted by Mr. Gavin Go, a high school English teacher from Xavier School, who did a spectacular job of helping the audience get to know Mitch better.

Even though the main purpose of Mitch’s visit was to talk about his newest book, The First Phone Call From Heaven, Mr. Go also asked him questions regarding his other novels, like Tuesdays With Morrie. Mitch talked about how when he was looking for publishers interested in the novel, he received a lot of rejection, and they were not just flat out “NO’s”. The publishers actually insulted and undermined his novel idea by saying things like, “That’s boring,” or “Nobody will want to read that.”

Even though he received countless rejections and refusals, Mitch persevered to keep on looking for someone to accept his idea. This is because he knew that he had a good reason for what he was doing: to help pay for Morrie’s rapidly increasing medical bills. He knew that this wasn’t just for himself but for the betterment of another.

Another thing that helped get him through all the rejection and insults was that he believed in himself and in what he was doing. He talked about how we shouldn’t listen to other people when they say our ideas are bad or that we’re no good. Rather, he said that we only need to listen to our own hearts, because sometimes, we only need to believe in ourselves, so that eventually, others will come around to our ideas instead of the other way around.

He was also asked about The First Phone Call From Heaven, a novel about how, in a small town called Coldwater, the residents had begun to receive phone calls from their long deceased relatives. He talked about the different lessons that he wanted to tell through that novel. He spoke about how, during these times of technological advancement, teenagers like us are always so preoccupied. We’re always on our phones, tablets and computers that we begin to lose sight of what really matters.

We’re always putting things off for later, saying that we’ll always have time anyway. We say we’re going to spend time with our family later, see this friend tomorrow, visit our grandparents next week, but there’s always something more important to do now. But what if something were to suddenly happen, and a loved one passes away unexpectedly? Suddenly there isn’t a later anymore. Suddenly you’re out of time.

Mitch talks about how we need to spend time with our family now, spend time with those that matter now, because any time now, there is the risk that they will be taken from our grasp forever. He says that we need to treasure the time that we have at present, so that when our loved ones are gone, we won’t have to pray for some magic phone call from heaven in order to talk to them. When we spend enough time with someone, we can talk to them anytime even when they’re gone. This is not because they become ghosts but because during their time here with us, we were able to build memories with them, and they’ll live on through those memories forever.

When I thought about what Mitch said in his interview, I began to realize that what he was saying was true. I spend nearly all of my free time on my computer. I realized that what I’m doing on the computer sometimes isn’t even the least productive. Oftentimes, I find myself idly browsing 9gag or Facebook, when I could just as easily have been doing other, better things, like chatting with my family and spending time with them.

We need to be able to make the sacrifice for the sake of those closest to us. We need to be able to set our priorities right, as Mitch Albom said, to make the most of the time given to us. We need to build memories with the ones that really matter, so that when they’re gone, those memories will live on forever.

After the talk, I think that all of us in the audience were thoroughly moved by Mitch’s words on believing in ourselves in the face of rejection and spending time with our loved ones before it’s too late. We were so lucky to have been able to meet such an inspiring and skilled author such as Mitch Albom, whose books have inspired millions across the globe.

The Author and Mr. Mitch Albom

The Author and Mr. Mitch Albom

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