Life's Greatest Lesson
"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." As Henry Adams stated, and is the summary of the impervious bond between the characters Mitch and Morrie, in Tuesdays with Morrie. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease is a form of motor neuron diseases. It is a rare disorder in which the nerves that control muscular activity degenerate within the brain and spinal cord. What results is weakness and wasting away of the muscles. The cause is unknown. About one to two cases of ALS are diagnosed annually per 100,000 people in the US. (Lou) Sufferers will notice weakness in the hands and arms accompanied by wasting of the muscles (Motor). The weakness usually progresses to involve the muscles of respiration and swallowing leading to death in two to four years. When someone is diagnosed with such disorder, it turns their life in unknown directions, and you can either handle it positively and be strong and love through it, or let it waste your life away. In Mitch Albom's Tuesday's with Morrie the main character Morrie Schwartz is diagnosed with ALS, he doesn't let it slow him down in his life; it has made him personally stronger, and gave those people around him a more positive attitude.
ALS attacks motor neurons, which are among the largest of all nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. These cells send messages to muscles throughout the body. In ALS, motor neurons die and the muscles do not receive these messages. As a result, muscles weaken as they lose their ability to move. Eventually, most muscle action is affected, including those which control swallowing and breathing, as well as major muscles in the arms, legs, back and neck. There is, however, no loss of sensory nerves, so people with ALS retain their sense of feeling, sight, hearing, smell and taste. This disease does not affect the mind and people with ALS remain fully alert and aware of events.
The story captures the compassion and wisdom of a man who only knew good in his heart. A man who lived his life to the fullest up until the very last breath of life. A story of a special bond of friendship that was lost for many years, but never forgotten. When Morrie learned he only had a few months to live after being diagnosed ALS, Morrie began the last class of his life with Mitch. Throughout the last fourteen weeks of Morrie's life, Mitch met with him every Tuesday to learn and understand all of the wisdom and lessons of life that were within Morrie. Morrie Schwartz was a man of great wisdom who loved and enjoyed to see and experience the simplicity of life, something beyond life's most challenging and unanswered mysteries. It is from Morrie that we learn that life is most happily experienced when enjoyed and fulfilled to its highest ability. Morrie touched the lives of many, and he will always be remembered for his sincerity and his compassion for life and for love. The lessons Morrie loved to teach were of his own experience with life.
In his lessons, Morrie advises Mitch to reject the popular culture in favor of creating his own. The individualistic culture Morrie encourages Mitch to create for him is a culture founded on love, acceptance, and human goodness, a culture that upholds a set of ethical values unlike the mores that popular culture endorses. Popular culture, Morrie says, is founded on greed, selfishness, and superficiality, which he urges Mitch to overcome. Morrie also stresses that he and Mitch must accept death and aging, as both are inevitable.
A symbol that represents Morrie's life throughout the book is the pink hibiscus plant. As Morrie's body deteriorates, so does the condition of the hibiscus plant. The plant's pink petals wither and fall as Morrie grows increasingly dependent on his aides and on oxygen. As his death approached, so does the death of the plant. It is used as a metaphor for Morrie and for life itself. Like plants and humans,...
Cited: Albom, Mitch. Tuesdays with Morrie. New York, Doubleday, September 1997.
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