Death and Meaning of Life in Tuesdays with Morrie Essay

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.....deathbed, Morrie reflects on his life, and relays several messages about the meaning or purpose of life. Ironically, one of the main messages of the story is that life does not necessarily have a greater or cosmic meaning. Meaning is found in what is immediately before us, in the day-to-day existence and especially in relationships with others. Life's meaning is found in accepting life for what it is rather than wishing it could be something else. The meaning of life can therefore be best understood by appreciating what we have now instead of wishing we were different or that things were different.

Second, and following from this, the meaning of life is located in the small details, things we can frequently overlook -- finding beauty and joy in every day, even on bad days and in situations that are painful or uncomfortable. Meaning is especially found in friendship, caring for others, and love. Letting go of selfishness and embracing acceptance, one can discover the meaning of life.

Finally, it is easier to talk about what is not meaningful to Morrie than what is. What is not meaningful, according to Morrie, is money, power, fame, or status. These things may feel good temporarily but in the long run they do not provide meaning. Only caring, sharing, and acceptance can provide the greater meaning. On the eighth Tuesday, for example, Morrie emphatically states, "neither money nor power will give you the feeling you're looking for, no matter how much of them you have," (p. 36). Ultimately, Morrie's philosophy about the meaning of life is summarized in his statement, "Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning," (p. 37). That sense of purpose and meaning will be different for each person, but generally it will involve doing things that are for other people, with other people, or in any way promoting genuine happiness and wellbeing.

Mitch's interaction with Morrie is transformative.

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Probably the most important thing that Mitch learns is that getting old can be a positive thing. Morrie is not only comfortable with age and aging, but also with death -- something that surprises Mitch. Craving youth is always going to lead to unhappiness because aging is inevitable. Morrie teaches Mitch acceptance, and he teaches Mitch to find joy, passion, and love in his daily life instead of expecting to find the meaning of life in a grand burning bush-style vision.

Morrie's central message of acceptance is even more important than his emphasis on caring for others and empathy. Acceptance is a difficult lesson, especially when life is painful. Morrie's message is more meaningful because it comes from someone who should be suffering, but who is not because he has cultivated acceptance. Yes, Morrie feels pain and discomfort, but this does not prevent him from feeling joy, love, and gratitude. He accepts life on life's terms, and does not demand more or expect more than what he puts into life. Morrie's outlook is Buddhist: life is filled with suffering, and the best way to eliminate that suffering is to eliminate desire or craving. Wishing for what cannot be, such as wishing one could live forever or reverse time or not get a disease, these are the root causes of real suffering, not the disease or the aging. Longing for the past or being fearful of the future are also going to perpetuate suffering. Even craving the meaning of life can cause suffering because it means we are searching for meaning when meaning is right before our eyes. Morrie suggests that the meaning of life reveals itself when we let go and get out of our own way.

To implement Morrie's message takes a cognitive shift. It requires vigilance of our thoughts and actions. Morrie's message urges us to take responsibility instead of continually blaming circumstances: our bodies, other people, or life's unfairness. Taking responsibility empowers us to create….....

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Works Cited

Albom, Mitch. "Tuesdays with Morrie."

Grey, Julienne. "My Mother is Not a Bird." International New York Times.

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