Here is another segment from my guest writer, Kathy B, who continues to find inspiration in life and desires to share what she has discovered here on my blog. As I have mentioned before, she is a poet and a writer who writes with her heart and often draws on unique experiences in her own life. Furthermore, she lets herself be inspired by others who have somehow reached out and touched her in their own special way. In this latest post, she shares about someone else’s life who is having a profound impact on her. The unique individual she writes about has touched and moved her heart:
Morrie – an Introduction
Morrie Schwartz was a special man, a most popular instructor at Brandeis University, and the center of the story. Mitch Albom was a student of Morrie’s some sixteen years before; the terminal diagnosis came in 1994. The writing is an interesting combination of present day (1994 -95), flashbacks and introspection. While flipping aimlessly through the channels late one night, Mitch heard a name from his past – Morrie Schwartz and he sat down to listen to Ted Koppel of Nightline. The program focused on hard news and human interest stories.
An Explanation of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
This particular segment was about his beloved instructor who was afflicted with ALS, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” It is a neurodegenerative disease that little by little affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons go from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the whole body. The constant erosion of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their demise. When the motor neurons quit functioning, the ability of the brain to work and control its muscles becomes impossible; this often leads to complete paralysis. The terribly wicked part of the condition is that one’s intellectual ability remains as sharp as ever while the body withers and dies. The words in the book aptly describes it like hot candle wax that melts the motor neurons.
Life’s Curve Balls
Mitch was shocked because Morrie probably had a year or less to live. It hardly seemed fair! Morrie had such a passionate zest for life. Memories from years before flooded his mind. He recalled his graduation; he had promised to keep in touch with him as he said goodbye to him. Mitch felt a stab of regret as he realized that he had not kept his word. The reality of life had a way of intruding on dreams – changing them. Prior to and right after Mitch graduated from college, he had dreams of becoming a great musician. Largely empty taverns and the death of his Uncle had a way of changing things. He began to care more for healthy paychecks and the security that money in the bank brought to him. He returned to school and obtained a Master’s Degree in Journalism. He wrote stories about celebrities and famous athletes, covered major sporting events such as Wimbledon etc.
The Request and the Teacher’s Final Lesson
Mitch began to question himself. He found himself making the trek to Logan Airport to visit Morrie who lived in a small, quiet suburb of Boston. Mitch was shocked and dismayed at the sight of his ill instructor. On the other hand, Morrie greeted him as if no time had passed at all between the student and the teacher. The visits became weekly – every Tuesday. These visits became easier when the newspaper’s union went on strike and Mitch lost his job for a while. On the third such visit, Morrie asks Mitch to share his story with the world. The gravity of the task and Morrie’s death hits him anew. He was about to lose his teacher, his beloved friend as was the rest of the world. However, before Morrie left this world, he had his final, most profound lesson to teach, and he entrusted Mitch to record his words and to share the lessons contained within them.
Time and Wisdom
Morrie Schwartz has always been a kind, generous and fun loving man. For instance, he danced the Lindy to the rock tunes of the late 1970’s. He did not care a bit if it seemed out of place to do so. As a teacher and instructor, he always had time to give to his students. It may be help with an assignment or guidance with a personal problem. Even with his final days quickly approaching, he spared the time to take an interest in world news and current events and other people. Erik Erikson called this generativity – passing on loving compassion to others as well as history and life lessons to others. Some choose to go through life stagnant, caught in the rather unimportant trappings of life: money, selfish wants and possessions.
Morrie did not wallow much in self- pity. He gave himself five minutes each morning to be sorry for himself. Afterwards, he got on with the day. Gratitude was always expressed; the tough times were met with positivity and good humor. Those were his keys to life; he did his best to live each moment to its fullest, making the decision not to wait until the last minutes of his life to explore its true meaning. This article was based on the book and true story Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.