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, both experience a natural life cycle, which inevitably ends in death. And both Morrie and Mitch must accept it.

Morrie's aphorism, "When you " re in bed, you " re dead," came true. Throughout Morrie's struggle with ALS, he refuses to say in bed and as he sees it as a form of surrender, he instead decides to rest in his study chair. Morrie wants to live his last days as fully as he can, and knows that if he stays in bed, he will give up to death by giving way life's simple enjoyments. In his study there are photographs of loved ones, and the books he has collected through his lifetime, it is also a place where he can look out the window and admire the beauty of nature's seasons and the outdoors. Morrie's final days when he does stay in bed is when he has at last accepted and readied himself for death. While Mitch visited with Morrie over the weeks, Mitch learned many valuable lessons and that amongst them all tying in to how the disease was affecting Morrie.

Mitch's first lesson was on the world. Morrie said .".. I can sit here with my dwindling days and look at what I think is important in life. I have bother the time - and the reason - to do that" (50) Morrie knew that he wasn't able to be independent any longer, but that wasn't going to slow him down on recognizing what is really important in life. Mitch was learning the most important and precious lessons life has to offer." We " re so wrapped up with egotistical things, career, family, having enough money, meeting the mortgage, getting a new car, fixing the radiator when it breaks - we " re involved in trillions of little acts just to keep going." (64-65) our lives our based around what is happening and what is going to happen and no one really takes the chance to stand back and assess what has happened.

By the time your life actually winds down, you " ve spent most of it consumed in trying to be someone you aren't and do things that you aren't meant to do. Morrie said "The truth is... once you learn how to dies, you learn how to live." (82) Morrie says this on the fourth Tuesday in response to Mitch's question about how one can prepare for death. Morrie responds with a Buddhist philosophy that everyday, one must ask the bird on his shoulder if that day is the day he will die. The philosophy serves as a metaphor for his awareness to his death that may come at any moment. The bird itself is symbolic of Morrie's consciousness that his death is fast-approaching, and his readiness to accept it when it comes.

He wants Mitch to realize that the bird is on everyone's shoulder at every moment in their life, no matter how old or young they are. When he tells Mitch that one must know how to die before they can know how to live, he meant that one must accept the possibility of one's own death before he can truly appreciate what he has on earth. "Take my condition. The things I am supposed to be embarrassed about now - not being able to walk, not being able to wipe my ass, waking up some mornings wanting to cry - there is nothing innately embarrassing about them. It's the same for women not being thin enough, or men not being rich enough. It's just what our culture would have you believe.

Don't believe it." Morrie said this to Mitch during their eleventh Tuesday together, when they talk specifically about culture. Gradually, Morrie has come to accept his physical handicaps, just as he has come to accept his impending death. He complains that the culture is wrong to deem natural physical need as socially embarrassing, and thus he refuses to believe that his handicaps are shameful. In rejecting the values of the popular culture, Morrie creates his own set of mores, which accommodate the physical shortcomings popular culture finds pitiable and embarrassing. As Morrie sees it, popular culture is a dictator under which the human community must suffer. He has already suffered enough from his disease, and does not see why he should seek social acceptance if it is not conducive to his personal happiness.

Throughout the book, popular culture is portrayed as a enormous brainwashing machine, wiping clean the minds of the public, and replacing the built-in kindness they posses when born a ruthless greed and selfish focus. Life is what you make it. The actions you take, the decisions you make, the people you meet, all of which impact your life. When life throws you a curve ball, and tries to set you off course, only you can either make the best of it, or let it ruin what you have. Just because you have a diagnosis, doesn't mean that you still can't live your life to the fullest, and that was what Morrie taught Mitch, his disability didn't make him weaker, it made him stronger and love what he had even more. As Morrie said, "So many people walk around with a meaningless life.

The seem half-asleep, even when they " re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they " re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning." Works Cited Albom, Mitch. Tuesdays with Morrie. New York, Doubleday, September 1997." Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Lou Gehrig's Disease." 01 Mar 2005." Focus on ALS." 05 Mar 2005." Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS)." 01 Mar 2005." Motor Neuron Disease." The American Medical Association Home Medical Encyclopedia. 1989 ed." Tuesdays with Morrie." 05 Mar 2005..