POST: 'Tuesdays With Morrie' - "Dying is one thing, living unhappily is something else."

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What's it about?

A former student, Mitch, reunites with his old professor, Morrie (who is dying from ALS), for one last class.


What'd I experience?

On my way to the theater, it was snowing, which was really nice to see, since New York hasn’t experienced a true winter this year. Then, my iPod started playing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and I took it as a sign that I was going to have one beautiful day.

I got to the theater, and the show began. Morrie was dancing on stage, while Mitch gave the audience some context. I remember staring at Morrie while he danced and automatically feeling attached to his character. He felt like an adorable, old family member, who could do the littlest thing, like dance, and it would make you smile.

My affection only grew after that. Morrie was a motivational, encouraging mentor for Mitch, and he was providing him with wise, thought-provoking, and life-changing advice. He had a genuine concern for Mitch’s wellbeing and only wished the best for him. His intention were pure and full of love, and I admired that so much. I just wanted Morrie to be in my life. To be my quirky mentor. To be there for me.

Later on, we (the audience) learn that Morrie is dying from ALS, and his reaction to the news was painful to watch. He goes from this serious silence to being full of anger and helplessness. He wanted the world to stop because his world had, but it didn’t. The world went on and would go on without him because, “the world doesn’t cater to [him].” It was a heartbreaking scene to watch because I understood his anger. I would be angry too. Why him? Why now? He still had so much to accomplish, and now, his life is slowly coming to a screeching halt. How could the world not stop without him in it? If I was in those shoes, I’d have this overwhelming feeling of insignificance in the grand scheme of things because of the way things turned out, but we can’t choose the cards we’re dealt, right? In that scene, I just wanted to jump in, travel the world, and spend all the money I had to find a cure for him….or at least try.

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After many years, as well as learning of Morrie’s condition, Mitch decided to visit him. The two agree to continue their old ritual of meeting every Tuesday to talk about life. During one of their meetings, Morrie saw a stressed out Mitch and tried to give him some advice, but he was quickly disregarded. He tells him that, “Dying is one thing. Living unhappily is something else,” and I couldn’t agree more. Mitch spent so much time obsessing and stressing over work that he was missing the beautiful things that were around him. He was letting his moment with Morrie, and I’m sure other moments with others, slip away. Morrie continues to say, “You’re dying too...just much slower,” he was one wise old man. Mitch couldn’t see that he wasn’t embracing life or living it. He was just getting by, which is just another form of death.

Morrie went on to comment on our culture, and he hit the nail on the head. He spoke about how our culture is all about the next big thing. How we want more. More money. More things. More. More. More. So much so that we can’t appreciate what’s around us and what makes us genuinely happy. Morrie was content with everything he had and believed that he had a wealthy home, and he was right. I feel the exact same way. I’m constantly told to chase after what makes the most money and to get rid of my outdated things. To get the next big thing. To BE the next big thing, but what people don’t understand is that I’m okay with appreciating what I have and striving to make it in what I love. To be happy. Material things can’t compare to the moments I have with the ones I love or to my happiness. I’m content with what I have, and that’s more than enough for me.

In another one of their meetings. Mitch spoke to Morrie about aging. He told him about a younger coworker making his way up in the ranks, and how he had to work harder to stay relevant. Mitch becomes flabbergasted when he learned that Morrie didn’t wish to be younger. Morrie says, “Inside I am every age I’ve ever been. When appropriate of course, and I loved that answer, it was thoughtful and insightful. He has lived so long that he had an array of ages to embrace, so why desire youth when you could have it all? Similar to Morrie, I embrace every age from being a silly, curious child, to the mature, responsible adult. At this point, I’m thinking, Morrie. You just get me.

[SPOILERS] Nearing the end of the play, the audience saw Morrie’s abilities slowly diminish, and the ending hit me so hard in the feels that I wasn’t sure I could truly recover. I’m honestly not sure I have. Mitch visits Morrie during his final days, and the two speak about his impending death. Mitch expressed his fear of losing someone who meant so much to him. How he couldn’t let go. That he wouldn’t. That he would lose the good part of himself. The part that only Morrie brought out. I knew at this point that I would be crying until the end, and that’s exactly what I did. Morrie convinced Mitch to always visit his grave after he was gone. He said this sad line, which gots both Mitch and I to start crying, which was, “ Now, you talk. I’ll listen.” He reversed their roles, and gave Mitch a way to always stay in touch with him. The tears continue, as Mitch struggled to find a way to say goodbye. Morrie reminds him of the way they used to say goodbye. The same way they would then. Through a huge and a kiss for extra credit.

After the show, I ended up calling everyone I loved and telling them how much they mean to me. How much I appreciate and love them. Their responses weren't what I expected. One person glossed over it and another said ditto, but I felt the love. They didn't need words to express their love because it's always there. 


 

Want to see it?

$27 Tickets (thru TDF Membership)
$25-$32.50 (thru Goldstar)

Tuesdays with Morrie
Cherry Lane Theatre
thru Jan. 24