Do I wither up and disappear, or do I make the best of my time left?
This was the thought in Morrie's head when he received his diagnosis of ALS from his doctor. This is a turning point for Morrie as he has to decide how to live the remainder of his life.
The years after graduation hardened me into someone quite different from the stuttering graduate who left campus that day headed for New York City, ready to offer the world his talent. The world, I discovered, was not all that interested.
Many students upon graduation feel as though they can conquer the world. However, the world is already full of great talent. A degree in hand does not make you an immediate super star. You need to put in the grunt work and start at the bottom to make this happen. This tends to harden people and put a damper on their spirit or work ethic. This is something Mitch learns and feels upon his graduation from college. It is also part of the reason why he and Morrie initially lose touch. He is out in the world, trying to make something of himself and loses touch with the rest of the world. He needs to find a balance between his family and friends and the rest of his life.
After the funeral, my life changed. I felt as if time were suddenly precious, water going down an open drain, and I could not move quickly enough.
After attending his uncle's funeral, Mitch realizes that at some point, life does end. He realizes he needs to get his act together and move on with his life. It reminds him to take advantage of each opportunity and to foster good relationships with those around him.
He refused to be depressed. Instead, Morrie had become a lightening rod of ideas. He jotted down his thought on yellow pads, envelopes, folders, scrap paper. He wrote bite-sized philosophies about living with death's shadow: "Accept what you are able to do and what you are not able to do"; "Accept the past as past without denying it or discarding it"; "Learn to forgive yourself and to forgive others"; Don't assume it's too late to get involved.
This quote is a great example of Morrie's attitude. As he saw his time on earth ticking away, he wanted to make the most of it by reaching out and teaching others everything he knows. He realized the philosophies he has on life could help others, and he wants to get the word out to whoever will see his notes. His positive attitude in the face of death can help others to live a better life.
I traded lots of dreams for a bigger paycheck, and I never even realized I was doing it.
This quote shows that if you put your dreams on the back burner, you may make more money, but you might miss many things you would rather be doing with your time. You might not realize it, because you are enjoying the fruits of the bigger paycheck.
Well, for one thing, the culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We're teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn't work, don't buy it. Create your own. Most people can't do it. They're more unhappy than me - even in my current condition
Our culture teaches many things that do not make people feel good about themselves. Images in the media can harm one's self image, for example. However, when it is in our culture, we believe it to be true. This can lead to unhappiness with one's self, as Morrie says here. He is dying, yet he is happier than most other people are.
So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning in your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.
This is another piece of advice Morrie gives to Mitch. He notices that people are just walking through life, not taking the time to notice the little things. They chase bigger things such as money or maybe fame. He says that in order to find meaning and joy in your life, you need to love others, be a positive part of your community, and be something bigger than yourself.
Let's begin with this idea, Morrie said. Everyone knows they're going to die, but nobody believes it.
Morrie recognizes that while everyone knows they will die, they don't really think it will happen to them. Everyone's heart will stop beating eventually, but people feel they are invincible. This can mean two things: that people take too many risks and live carelessly, or that people do not take enough risks and live too safe a life, not enjoying each day to the fullest.
Be compassionate, Morrie whispered. And take responsibility for each other. If we only learned those lessons, this world would be so much better a place.
This was one of Morrie's final lessons to Mitch. He was teaching a lesson on compassion, saying that we all need to look out for each other. Don't leave someone in trouble. Do whatever you can to help someone. The smallest thing can make their world a better one. Moreover, they can pass it on and in turn, help someone else. If everyone was there for everyone, Morrie believed, this world would be a better place.
As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on - in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.
Morrie believes that love means immortality. Even if your physical body is gone, if people can remember the love you gave them, they will feel it, and you'll still be here in the form of that love. You will live on in their hearts and memories. So give as much love as you can when you are here. You will feel good at the time, and people will remember it long after you are gone.
Tuesdays With Morrie Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Tuesdays With Morrie is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Mitch comes across his old professor by a chance viewing of "Nightline" with Ted Koppel on ABC. Morrie had been writing his philosophies on life and sharing with friends. This story reached the Boston Globe, and a "Nightline" producer saw it in...