Lessons We Learned From Tuesdays With Morrie

Categories: Tuesdays With Morrie
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“Saying, you know you’re 37 years old, you’re perfectly healthy… he’s 78 years old, and he’s dying.. and he seems ten times happier with his life than you are”, with these touching words uttered by a man who is- at the moment of addressing the audience- in his 60s, which makes a person curious to know what changes took place in his next 23 years that made him an inspirational speaker as evidenced by his address and fame (108.553 views). Perhaps it might also be intriguing so that one is curious to know who is “he who is 78 and seems happier”.

Mitch Albom is a writer and journalist who is considered a motivational speaker. Albom in his next 23 years sold more than 32 million copies of his writings; however, the man referred to as “he” is included in one of his books- today’s subject- sold more than 14 million copies (Gsmerman 2018). What intrigued him to take on himself the burden of writing the book was to answer one question: “what do we do when we’re really looking death in the face?”.

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To a great extent, Tuesdays with Morrie examines this experiment and provides an approach to answer this question. Albom was former student of Morrie Schwartz, who taught the former back at university days. During one of his times of depression, Albom accidentally saw his former professor on TV in an interview with Ted Koppel and learned that his professor is afflicted with ALS. Alborn decides to revisit his professor and agrees to pay him regular visits every Tuesday.

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The deal was a mutual agreement since Alborn sought rejuvenation whereas sought love and solidarity to stand against his fatal illness. Even though the attempt to record these meetings in a book was originally intended to pay Morrie’s treatment bills, the book became an inspiration and remained on the New York Times bestseller list for more than two hundred weeks and was translated to more than 40 languages (Harris 2015). Likewise, Mike Rowe’s series Returning the Favor is an attempt to expand positive approach and gratitude throughout the world. Rowe’s series reunites people with those who undertook benevolent actions for them. Perhaps the selection of the particular video of Goldin Martinez, who is subject of one of the videos of Mike Rowe, might be because the video indirectly discusses the effect of the book Tuesdays with Morrie. Goldin Martinez is an inspirator who founded Get Focused, a program which mission is to promote “reading and exercise to children around the world using a unique program that encourages them to buy their favorite books using exercise” (Martinez).

Martinez, in Rowe’s video, narrates that his former teacher deeply affected him by offering him a book to read; it was Tuesdays with Morrie. Martinez extensively demonstrates how that this book stimulated the greatest change in his life- to become an inspirator rather than remaining a former loser. Martinez states that reading this book has changed his life for the better; in turn, it inspired him to attempt to “return the favor” and promote reading and exercise, or it is an attempt to help individuals who cannot afford to purchase books to read and learn about life. At the end of the video, Rowe surprises Martinez with meeting the teacher who ignited his spark with the book she gave him, somehow similar to Albom’s reuniting with Morrie on Tuesdays. The theme of Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is death.

Morrie, a sociology professor and a former friend of Ted Koppel, is afflicted with ALS, a disease that gradually leads a person to lose his control of his/her limbs and failure to perform basic biological operations that eventually wind up with the person’s death. Through his battle with ALS, Morrie exposes his experience on TV, and later in the book by Albom, as sees such an action an aid for those who are afraid of death; in other words, he sets himself as a role-model who faces death so that those who see or read about him can learn about life. He quotes: “I’m not ashamed of that, as long as I have my mind and my heart”. Morrie is realistic when he claims that his reactions towards the idea that he is going to die soon because he himself states that he fluctuates among crying, fearing, and ambition to live. In addition, Morrie establishes his own support system that is embodied in friends and family- his community. It is through this support system that he seeks refuge and support in his battle with ALS. Moreover, Morrie believes in human beings being interconnected to a whole larger system that finds after-life a logical compensation for one’s suffering in life. However, unlike others, Morrie holds a unique perception that people should speak more often of death because he believes that when people think of something and do not expose or share it, the item of preoccupation of mind- according to him- is generated and enlarged so that it becomes intolerable. Morrie believes that through love, one can survive hardships and achieve inner-peace, and through that one can face life traumas like the one Morrie encountered, which is ALS. He quotes: “Be compassionate to yourself and to other people”.

From the very beginning till the very end, the book traces Morrie’s journey from life to death. Even in “The Syllabus”, Albom quotes: “he would make death his final project, the center point of his days….Morrie would walk that final bridge between life and death, and narrate the trip”. Perhaps death, as a topic, dominates the conversations between Morrie and Albom and is considered the most discussed issue in the book. The word “death” is mentioned 46 times, and the word “die” is mentioned 36 times. These frequencies reinforce the claim that the death is a dominant theme in the book. The aforementioned quote highlights the main aim of the book: to describe the journey between life and death from Morrie’s perspective. According to the quote, Morrie sees himself in a journey from life to death through which he learns about life. In addition, the bridge he refers to is simply the connection between the realization of his imminent death and appreciation of life. Similarly, in “The Thirteenth Tuesday We Talk About the Perfect day”, Morrie, for one final time reinforces the same idea with his words: “Mitch…I felt that I was ready to go…I was thinking about a dream I had last week where I was crossing a bridge into something unknown. Being ready to move on to whatever is next”. This reinforcement to the metaphor of the bridge is outlines by Morrie himself- in the same chapter- when he quotes: “If we know, in the end, that we can ultimately have that peace with dying, then we can finally do the really hard thing..make peace with living”.

Morrie states that when one stands on the way to death, one can realize the gift of life and reconsider his/her life choices. In other words, being on the virtual bridge (or knowing that a person is going to die soon) forces an appreciation of life (or getting to die makes a person wiser and drives him/her to view the larger perspective of the purpose of life itself). Morrie believes that people can never understand the purpose of life unless they see it ending soon; it is then people, according to him, start to cherish every moment and learn to live a life that is based on gratefulness and satisfaction rather than what Arthur Miller names in his All My Sons “The Rat Race”. Thus, the bridge that connects two shores that can never be united is metaphorically significant in the book so that Morrie describes himself as a person on the bridge between life and death. The bridge connects life and death, which are naturally antonymous. Morrie perceives that when someone loses life and dies, he/she is in no position to inform those who are alive of life and its goodness; on the other hand, those who live are so much indulged in hoarding worldly materials- as embodied by Albom’s former history before reuniting with Morrie- so that they are always unsatisfied and unhappy with what they have to the extent that they feel empty. Morrie considers himself in a grey area between life and death because of his natural condition, being an ALS fighter, which is evident in his quote in “The Classroom”: “People see me as a bridge. I am not as a live as I used to be, but I am not yet dead. I’m sort of..in-between”. Morrie, hence, instructs on how to lead a healthy life based on his experience of death. In “The Fourth Tuesday We Talk About Death”, Morrie quotes: “The truth is..once you learn how to die, you learn how to live”.

Indeed, his perception of death is quite unique. Morrie, unlike everyone else, does not fear death. Although death, as mentioned, is a dominant topic in the book and conversation, it is taken lightly by Morrie. In “A Professor’s Final Course”: His Own Death, Albom describes Morrie during the latter’s interview with Ted Koppel: “..he showed great passion when explaining how you face the end of life.” In addition, in “The Second Tuesday We Talk About Feeling Sorry for Yourself”, he adds: “Death is as natural as life….if we know, in the end, that we can ultimately have that peace with dying, then we can finally..make peace with living” Morrie strongly believes that death enforces life and love. Perhaps the strongest evidence that Morrie takes death lightly, unlike everyone else, is what is implied in his interview with Ted Koppel, which is scripted in the book. Morrie holds that he is irreverent about death as he does not fear it and he speaks often about it because he is not inclined to have thoughts about death to himself. Instead, he insists on exposing such rantings about death because of his belief that keeping these thoughts to oneself leads to its generation and expansion to reach utmost preoccupation to one’s mind. In other words, one might become locked up between such thoughts if one lets these ideas inside him/herself as these ideas shall get bigger and ruin one’s mentality.

Consequently, Morrie is not afraid of death; instead, he taunts it and seizes the opportunity to benefit from it by giving a lesson about life. Even in the final chapter “Graduation”, Albom describes the way Morrie passes away “he died this way on purpose…he wanted to go serenely, and that is how he went.” This quote implies a sense of strong will and determination from Morrie as Morrie- as Albom describes- enforces his own way of dying so that it seems that although Morrie falls for ALS, he does not completely collapse or surrender; on the contrary, Morrie fights and devises his way of dying. Morrie has long promoted life from death-bed, and Albom shows that Morrie’s way finally works because Morrie has enforced the way of death on death itself.

Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, the main theme of the book is death. In “The Thirteenth Tuesday We Talk About the Perfect Day”, Morrie quotes: “Death ends a life, not a relationship”. Death is the main theme of the book since, as stated above, Morrie believes that his experience with dying constitutes a lesson for living. Morrie- through the mentioned quote- believes that a person becomes immortal through the effect he leaves in people, which is asserted by Albom himself later; in other words, Morrie holds that he can beat death if he becomes alive in people’s minds and hearts, especially to those whom Morrie affects. Perhaps this is the reason behind the idea of Tuesday meetings with Albom and his interview with Koppel: to spread the word and have more effect on wider audience. However, one might contend that Tuesdays with Morrie is a book that exaggerates the theme of death because of its vivid descriptions of Morrie disintegrating health condition. Perhaps one might perceive details such as Morrie’s ailment, pain, having difficulty to breath, needing assistance to “Pee”, and instructing Albom on how it feels to be in final stages of ALS when the former told the latter to hold his breath for a while as a simulation to breathing troubles encountered with ALS.

One might see all these details as irrelevant and not related to the assumed theme of learning to cherish life through death. In addition, one might conceive such details as inappropriate and deviating from the main theme. Alternatively, such details might be considered by others as an element of realism that can be considered an add value to the person of Morrie. That is to say, Morrie, who is portrayed suffering and encountering seriously physical hardships, can be seen as true and factual, which adds credibility to the reader. Learning about a suffering person with all that pain, readers might be then able to share Albom’s fascination with the man who, despite his serious and fatal illness, is still able to see death from a different perspective from that of others. Perhaps his suffering helps people in understanding his trauma and, in turn, his miraculous power.

Taking everything into consideration, Tuesdays with Morrie is a lesson about life as a whole. The book can be considered a guide on how to lead a healthy life that enhances personality, purposefulness, and inner-peace. The book can be considered a shout against material and worldly pleasures, for it is a call for a pause and reconsideration of one’s goals in life. The journey of Albom before he reunites with Morrie and the change the former undergoes later bolsters the idea of choices in life. Albom was, as he states, successful, rich, and competitive; conversely, after reuniting with Morrie, he reconsiders his life choices and priorities. For instance, he begins to reconcile with his brother and reconsider his relationship with others.

Interestingly, a book that was originally written with the intention of payment of Morrie’s medical bills turns to a legendary luminary is not because of its depiction of an old man’s death, but it is revered due to the ingenuity of its content. It is a book that renounces material hoarding of wealth and connects life to death. Through this book, one learns that death enlightens better life; it is quoted: “once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” Thus, personally the book is perceived as a road map to healthy life that guarantees inner-peace and soul redemption. One might assume a question of how to benefit from Morrie’s experience and Albom’s book; the answer lies in the book itself: compassion and love of oneself and others. As stated, the spread of love and exposition of feelings and emotions enhances a healthy environment and more involving community. Morrie was never ashamed or shy of expressing his own feelings or sharing his own thoughts about everything, mainly death and life. All in all, this book should be taught in schools and promoted in a more effective way so as to ensure a better community and, in turn, offspring.

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Lessons We Learned From Tuesdays With Morrie. (2022, Mar 24). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/lessons-we-learned-from-tuesdays-with-morrie-essay

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