Civic Imagination

Tuesdays with Morrie

Tuesdays with Morrie is set in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts and is about a profound experience between a student and his dying past professor. The student, Mitch, lived a fast-paced life post-college as a journalist and lost touch with his favorite professor. The professor, Morrie, taught at Brandeis University and later was diagnosed with the disease ALS. As Morrie realizes that his life is coming to an end, he gets featured on a television show to speak about life and death, and Mitch sees him on a screen for the first time in years. Mitch realizes how he lost touch with his professor and decides to contact Morrie. They then spend fourteen Tuesdays together until Morrie passes away. During these Tuesday meetings, Morrie gives Mitch insights on what the meaning of life and death are. The story was originally written by Mitch, published, and later turned into a movie in 1999. I remember a specific point in the book where Morrie is lying down, in severe pain from his ALS, and tells Mitch “you are not a wave, you are part of the ocean”. Morrie and this book in general give a purpose and meaning of life and inspire me to think of myself as part of a contribution to a whole, instead of a self-centered being. It allows me to think of my life as a contribution and journey.

My relationship with the book “Tuesdays with Morrie” is personal. I found out about this story through my best friend a couple of months ago. She handed me the book one day and said “I think you need this”. She was right. I engaged with the text for about 3 days on the train commuting to and from boston and a suburb to go to my internship. It appealed to me because it was directly linked to many of my recent introspections and experiences. This story touched me in so many ways- my mother was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2012, and passed away just about a year ago. I had experienced death before- but this was different. This was my favorite person, gone. The story also touches upon how you must feel things wholly in order to detach yourself and move on and experience new things. For the majority of my life, even at my mother’s funeral, I never allowed myself to cry in front of others or cry in general. I thought that I would be seen as weak and could never allow that. This book taught me that it is so important to feel everything with my whole soul, and that feeling emotions is an integral part of what it means to be human. Crying is okay, grief is okay. This story still resonates with me every day because I am more in touch with my emotions and can express them well. This story is fairly well known and was adapted into a movie in 1999, but I hadn’t heard of it before my friend handed me the book. I recently gave it to another friend who was living very fast and was not thinking about all of the wonderful things in life could happen if he were to just slow down and feel emotions and enjoy the time that he has left on earth.

This story can inspire because it offers an interesting perspective on how to look at the world and life in general. It offers us all the question of “how would you live if you knew your time left was limited to a matter of weeks?”. I think that is has been used to mobilize people in the sense that it offers people a new method of thinking and a new way to go through their experiences and lives. I also think that this book brought rare fatal diseases to light and more people were aware of the seriousness of ALS. It touches upon the themes of life and death, of connecting with others, pursuit of happiness, and building a life that you love. I think that this book and/or the movie is relevant to any and all communities because it allows for people to create a different headspace and ALS and other rare diseases can affect anyone- regardless of race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, status, job, etc.. It causes readers to realize that life is precious and we should enjoy health while we have it. This story is best told by Mitch in his book, though anyone can reflect upon these experiences. I have actually shared this story with many friends struggling with either valuing life, dealing with death, finding their place in the world, or anyone who could possibly be helped by Morrie’s messages. I shared it because I truly believe that life is so valuable, and we must value not only our own lives, but each other’s.

Life, Death, Happiness, ALS, Disease

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