Tuesdays with Morrie - Part 5
“When you learn how to die, you learn how to live” (83). After reading those words in “Tuesdays With Morrie” by Mitch Albom, I knew I was going to learn something new, something big, coming from Morrie Schwartz. I tried to pin point the exact theme of the book, and all I could come up with was “when you learn how to die, you learn how to live”. I tried understanding the logic behind those words, and all I could come up with is dying must be the only conclusion to being alive. You must live your life to the fullest in order to learn how to live.
Morrie knows he is dying and within this book, he teaches those around him how to accept his death, and teaches them how to live. People walk around thinking that they are untouchable, or even if you must say, immortal. Most people don’t realize that at any moment the unthinkable can happen. Personally, I’m scared of the concept of “death” and I don’t think I will ever really accept death because for me I am scared of not knowing what happens next. Instead of accepting it, us as a society mostly ride it off and for that, our eyes are closed.
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Morrie on the other hand is a positive man with his eyes opens and takes each day while being positive. In the book, Morrie says we live life sleepwalking, never fully awake or aware, and it’s sad but there is a very high percent of people who live life that way. As I read in an article called, “Are you sleepwalking your life away”, they state that “sleepwalkers are people who live through their lives in an unconsciousness state. It is not just about being physically awake – Many people around us are awake, yet living unconsciously.
They are not fully aware of who they are, the larger context of life they are a part of and their real purpose in life. The shocking thing is that if tomorrow was the day that they were told they had so much time left, is when the little things wouldn’t matter anymore. I think it’s really sad that it takes something as tragic as death for some people to really open there eyes and realize what they have and really deeply take time to appreciate it. Within this book, Morrie is a dying teacher who gives his last lesson to his favorite student, Mitch Albom.
Morrie made three points on his Tuesdays with Mitch that stood out the most to me and those were that you need to learn how to die in order to learn how to live, that it is important to be able to detach yourself from your emotions, and how it is necessary to build one’s own subculture. Now before I get ahead of myself, I want to go back to the summary of the book. Mitch Albom went to college and had a favorite professor who was Morrie Schwartz. After graduating he had promised to stay in touch with Morrie, and as we all know, at times not all of us stick by that promise.
It is unfortunate, but easy, to move to a new place and lose touch with someone as they aren’t there all the time. After a long time, Mitch became a sports journalist and still hadn’t gotten in touch with Morrie over the years until he was watching the news one night, and saw Morrie on T. V. His professor, who he called “Coach”, had developed ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. As stated by the ALS Association, ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
From that day on, Mitch spent each Tuesday with Morrie until his death. In the book Morrie had stated, “We are Tuesday people”. When Mitch was still in College, every Tuesday was the day that him and Morrie would get together to talk about school and edit his thesis paper, and so it carried on that they would remain “Tuesday people” till the day Morrie had died. Each week that Mitch went to see Morrie, he would learn a new life lesson from Morrie. A lesson that you couldn’t learn from just anyone. Morrie talks about how people don’t really know who they are.
Most people identify themselves with whatever face they choose to hide behind. As Goffman once said, “The term face may be defined as the positive social value a person effectively claims for himself by the line others assume he has taken during a particular contact. Face is an image of self delineated in terms of approved social attributes”. Not all masks are physical because there are people who hide behind the intellectual mask, as a way to feel above others who are not as smart or who aren’t as ambitious. These types of people are not much different than the person that Mitch is or what he had become in his life.
Mitch didn’t know himself that well but he became what was expected of him but he found out later that all that he had once thought was important was really not as important as he thought it was. There is a part in the book where Morrie talks to Mitch about the concept about money. Morrie says “Money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness. I can tell you, as I’m sitting here dying, when you most need it, neither money, nor power will give you the feeling you’re looking for, no matter how much of them you have” (125). This was something that took me back for a little.
We are all people that think about money every once in awhile. It is a human thing to do. The idea that Morrie paints about how the concept that no amount of power or money will make someone happy is definitely a strong lesson in the book. Most people spend their lives searching for happiness from material possessions. People always want to be something they are not, and I don’t know if that is because of the way the media portrays the “perfect lifestyle” or whichever it is, but you can see it everywhere you go. I read an article in Newsweek on “Why Money doesn’t Buy Happiness”.
They stated “”Psychologists have spent decades studying the relation between wealth and happiness,” writes Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert in his best-selling “Stumbling on Happiness,” “and they have generally concluded that wealth increases human happiness when it lifts people out of abject poverty and into the middle class but that it does little to increase happiness thereafter. ” I found this really interesting because it is surprising to find that out. I always believed that money made people happy, but I knew that there would always be that emptiness and loneliness in someone. In class, Dr. Esposito talked about the quote “30 is the new 20”. No one is truly ever happy. Morrie stated in the book, “It’s the same for women not being thin enough, or men not being rich enough, it’s just what our culture would have you believe. Don’t believe it! ” (155). Adults want to be young, teenagers want to be adults, and so on, but Morrie teaches us that death is natural. Morrie in the book also talked about how when you are a baby you are dependent on your parents to take care of you, and within the last few years of one’s life, you become dependent on your family yet again. It is the circle of life if one must say.
Morrie was a person who didn’t see anything wrong with being number 2, instead of being number 1 and that just shows how strong and wise of a man he was. There are a lot of people these days that fight to be number 1 in anything, and it is a shame. Morrie had no shame as became sicker each day. He lost the ability towards the end of the book to even be able to wipe himself after going to the bathroom. This was a sign of weakness that he couldn’t hide, but instead of being down and upset, he managed to keep a smile on his face and think positive about it. He never once showed a sign of weakness to people.
He did let his emotions out but he stayed strong and kept that positive attitude. It shocks me how a person like Morrie who knew he was going to die, still stayed happy and positive, but if you look around in society, people really are unhappy about little things. People have negative thoughts over a bad grade, instead of realizing, that it is just a sign that says “you can do better”, a sign that says “you can improve”. Morrie teaches Mitch that you will never be forgotten if you live a life full of loving friends and family, basically if you live life to the fullest as I would see it.
Mitch learns that if you truly love and know a person, death will not erase his or her love. Mitch is able to cope with Morrie’s death because of one of Morrie’s famous quote, “Death ends a life, not a relationship” (174). Personally, I believe that this is one of the strongest quotes that Morrie has said in the book because basically he is stating that love goes on after death. I have sat around and thought about how not every day is guaranteed to us, so I try my hardest to make sure I do my best each day, and I help out a lot of people each day.
I was blessed and still am blessed with the things and people I have in my life. I just hope that I have helped others out the way I have been helped out. Death is one of my biggest fears. It terrifies me because I don’t know what will happen next, but Morrie and his life lessons helped me learn a bit more. I may not understand the process and how you get from point A to point B, but I do now know what I need to do each day to completely live my life to the fullest, whether that means listening to Morrie’s words, or doing what Jimmy Valvano said.
Jimmy Valvano said that in order to have a good and full day, you need to laugh, think, and cry. That is a lot of emotions in one day, but then again, wouldn’t it be worth it? I believe that “Tuesdays with Morrie” is an amazing book that everyone should read at least once in their lives. I am a person who doesn’t like reading books. It has been hard for my mom to get me to read books ever since I was a little girl. When I was told I was to read “Tuesday’s with Morrie”, the title of it and the way the book looked, gave me enough reason to not read it.
Nothing about the book looked appealing to me. All my friends said, “Sahar, just read it. It’s a really good book”. No book has ever made me tear up or cry. That is what movies are for, but somehow this book touched me deep down. If more people picked this book up and read it, maybe our world could be somewhat of a better place. The advice to live life to the fullest is a saying that we all take for granted. We all say “you need to live life to the fullest” without really looking and understanding those words.
The way Morrie put it all into words, I finally understand what it truly means to live life to the fullest. I personally feel that if someone else said those words that Morrie did, that it wouldn’t have affected me as it did when Morrie said them. I guess it is because I know Morrie is dying of ALS and it is “credible” if you must put it in those words. Even though this book seems like adults and the elderly can connect with Morrie, this book is more for the overall audience, whether you are a teenager or early 20’s.
This book is definitely for every age. I’m grateful that I was able to read this book, because I feel that it has affected me at a young age, and I can learn from a young age the lessons that Morrie has offered us, instead of being at Mitch’s age after he has already experienced the real world. As Stephanie Bowen from CNN stated, “Tuesdays with Morrie is more than just a dying mans last words. It is an inspirational recount of a man’s life a man whose passion for the human spirit has continued to live long after his last breath. ”