Existentialists look at life differently, and so does Morrie. Where others would become depressed about their growing dependency on others, Morrie sees it as a chance to "experience" being a baby again, something that was important in his life but he no longer remembers. He has a different way of looking at things, and this seems like a better way to manage the stresses of life. Not eternal optimism, but instead, looking to see if there is something interesting or even challenging in the stress that can become a catalyst for change or growth, rather than stagnation and depression.
Personally, most people are afraid of aging and dying, and yet, it is the only thing in life that is absolutely certain, and so it is futile to fear it. Instead of facing his death with fear, like many people do, Morrie faces it with strength and humor. That does not mean he does not have his moments of despair. Sometimes he is fearful, sometimes he is optimistic, and sometimes he is simply angry. It is difficult to imagine how a person could remain so positive and upbeat even as his body disintegrates around him. Not many people in the world could be so courageous, and so inspiring to others. It also seems that we no longer value the wisdom of our elders, and that when people get old in our society, they are "tossed out" like garbage to live in nursing homes and hospitals, while the young, "vital" generation ignores them and the wisdom they have to offer. There are many Morrie's out there. He got to tell his story, but there are thousands of others that do not, and that seems like a sad waste of good lives.
The book made this reader think about aging and dying in a different light. Death has always been frightening and terrifically sad, and losing someone close has been extremely traumatic. Now it seems as if living more authentically, and making happier, wiser decisions, can take some of that pain and fear away. It also makes it clear that aging in our society is almost as bad as death itself, and that our culture does not encourage happiness or authentic life, but rather it encourages a work ethic like the author's in order to be "successful." It seems that it is only when we slow down, due to illness or in the author's case, a union strike, that is the only time we can really take a look at our lives and how we live them. Like the author, it seems that readers should think what happened to me? Death is inevitable, so we can live in fear, or we can live wholeheartedly and make the right choices in life. We can choose to be happy "now," not sometime in the future, and we can look at what we do in life and who will grieve when we are gone, and then death will not seem like such a - death sentence.
In conclusion, this book looks at death and dying from a different perspective, and it gives a new perspective on aging, as well. Morrie was a unique individual who faced his own mortality with strength and courage, mostly because he was a gentle, good man who was remarkably happy with himself and those around him. He celebrated life, but he also understood that he could learn from his own impending death, and that made him a remarkable man. Early on, he asks the author "Are you trying to be as human as you can be?'" (Albom, 1997, p. 34). Asking anyone that question can change their lives. It changed the author's life, and caused him to look at his own life and ideas about aging. It changed Morrie's life, as well, because he had lived his life by those principles, and so, when he died, he was at peace with himself and the world around him.
Albom, M. (1997). Tuesdays with Morrie: An old man, a young man, and life's greatest lesson. New York: Doubleday.
Georganda, E. (2006). Growing older - growing wiser? The DNA of the soul and life satisfaction. Retrieved 11 March 2008 from the Thalassemia.org Web site: http://www.thalassaemia.org.cy/MyData/Growing%20older%20growing%20wiser%20DUBAI.pdf1-13.
Van Deurzen, E. And Tantam, D. (2005). Existential psychotherapy. Retrieved 11 March 2008 from the International Collaborative of Existential Counsellors and Psychotherapists Website: http://www.existentialpsychotherapy.net/?PHPSESSID=e4fe464843eb0fcf015176a98a4f5e9b.