Tuesdays with Morrie: The Uncommon Philosophy
On the journey of life to discover the true self, Mitch, a university student, soon discovers that he attempted to solve a paradox that is truly unsolvable. With the help of an old philosophy/psychology professor by the name Morrie, grows an understanding and a relationship between a student and his teacher on the journey to solving the paradox together. Mitch soon discovers that his teacher knows a philosophy that (Morrie believes) is the answer to this paradox, the meaning of life and it´s main goal. Still, in order to obtain this knowledge and guidance, Mitch´s attention as well as his sincere will is required as his teacher approaches him in different ways to show him the truth. It is a difficult task for Morrie as his knowledge has an impact on his view of the world, his goals and ambitions as much as it affects his actions, all which Mitch has not yet realized and made sense of or is even prepared to.
Morrie and Mitch are different yet close. The physical differences such as age, health condition and profession differ as Morrie is a professor in his late seventies with a severe condition that requires constant supervision and assist whereas Mitch is in his thirties working as a journalist with a stable and heathy condition. Despite the fact that Mitch is healthy, he lives by the society’s codes and demands as it affects him and gives him the feeling of being suffocated, which increases over time. Morrie believes that these codes that many live by are the reason that the society, including Mitch, is suffering from. He clearly means that no one is free to do what they desire, that no one is free of stress as everyone constantly have to fulfill the demands that they are forced to do, not what they are pleased with doing. These shows immensely how the society (in America) is deprived by constant work but the people are still In need of one in order to live. It can be described in a simplified picture where the people there are machines controlled to work and to stop when are given an order or a permission to do so. The teacher-student relationship between Mitch and Morrie is, however, strong leading to a better understanding of the philosophy explained by Morrie, which explains the why they are close to each other (ideally).
Throughout the story it becomes obvious that the American society is a very demanding one and there is no place for those that are weak when it comes to providing yourself with what is essential for a human (roof and walls to be covered with, food etc.). That is, according to Morrie, very unfortunate since any person will rarely have time for themselves until they pass the age of youth. Although Morrie does not wish to be young again, he seems to be sad about not having a childhood like everyone else had as he did not receive what every child used to have (proper care and love). That is most likely the main reason he teaches close ones about love and it´s importance to be a part of humans.
Teaching Morrie´s principles are not simple as not everyone is capable of understanding the true meaning of the aspects of what theory he has to say. It seems as if this belief is connected to many things but according to Morrie, understanding the true meaning of death grants the knowledge to life “The truth is…..once you learn how to die you will learn how to live”, which means understanding death Is a vital part. What Morrie is trying to deliver is most likely the same thing as saying that if you constantly keep thinking of death (or think of it sufficient times), you will use your time in what suits you and the rest of the world (you will not waste time on it is useless). There is a problem with this theory and that is mainly because everyone does not share the same idea of what is considered an efficient time use. Still, Morrie explains some things that are according to him efficient time consuming of which is loving others and showing them care by consuming this time close to them (amongst other things). However it could simply be understood (by several or many individuals) by an old example that says “time is money” but that can very much differ from one person to another.
The connection to this belief that Morrie has is most likely dated back to the “North American Artic”, where tribes believe in reincarnation. However that is not clear since Morrie does not reveal his belief directly when he says “perhaps” and “If I had my choice, a gazelle”. The first quote “perhaps” suggests that Morrie might be hiding his belief from Mitch (and the others). It feels as if Morrie would not speak of what he means in what he says, as if he is waiting for his close students to understand what he is trying to deliver to them. We even notice how his actions deny what he says when he was asked what he would do if he could be healthy for a day (without the diseases he acquired) and he simply answers “I´d get up in the morning, do my exercises, have a lovely breakfast of sweet rolls and tea, go for a swim, then have my friends come over for a nice lunch” and he says that as if nothing has ever happened, while he himself says that you should use time efficiently. This leads us to see that Morrie´s view on this efficient time consuming is when you do what you please and not what you must do? However from a subjective view this might not be or should not be applied upon the majority of people, in any society at every age (with no exceptions) and that is because what pleases you might not always be what is best for yourself. Example: if a child does not become pleased by going to school, does that mean he should not attend? For his best, it might not be as he would not afford to live by himself/herself in the future nor would they be able to provide for their children. Morrie maybe picturing a society with it´s rules and principles are the same as his so that no one would get in trouble for doing what they please? Until that happens no one could provide for themselves if they don’t do what they must.
Despite all that, it becomes very clear that Morrie despises this “popular culture” where a person would feel they are forced to show other people certain qualities (being physically strong enough to maintain a job, wear certain clothes etc.) that one does not have or fulfill, leading the person to feel ashamed of being amongst this society. Morrie gives an example of being physically strong any longer saying “The things I am supposed to be embarrassed about now-not being able to walk, not being able to wipe my ass, waking up some mornings wanting to cry-there is nothing innately embarrassing about them” and “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”.
Fortunately it is simple to see what Morrie is after (rejection of the culture that is seen to be popular by many and which is demanding) but with all the aphorisms that could not specify it´s meaning, everything becomes rather hard. However, that does not affect the story as it is becomes more interesting for the reader to try and decode the hidden meaning behind them, a stunning addition since the meaning of life is not simple answer.