Orientation Activity: Learning From Morrie
Directions Alone: Read the following portion of a conversation between Mor-rie Schwartz and writer Mitch Albom from the book Tuesdays With Morrie (Al-bom, 1997). When you are ready, check your watch and give yourself 4 minutes to write a reaction to the conversation.
Directions With Others: Read the following portion of a conversation between Schwartz and Albom. Move into a small group of three to four people and dis-cuss your reaction to the exchange. Ensure that each person has time to share a response. Once finished, you may be asked to share your comments with the entire group. “All this emphasis on youth—I don’t buy it,” he said. “. . . the youngare not wise. They have very little understanding about life. Who wants to live every day when you don’t know what’s going on? When people are manipulating you, telling you to buy this perfume and you’ll be beautiful, or this pair of jeans and you’ll be sexy—and you believe them! It’s such nonsense.”
Weren’t you ever afraid to grow old, I asked? “Mitch, I embrace aging.” Embrace It? “It’s very simple. As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed attwenty-two, you’d always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, you know. It’s growth. It’s more than the negative that you’re going to die, it is also the positive that you understand you’re going to die, and that you live a better life because of it. Yes, I said but if aging were so valuable, why do people always say “Oh, if I were young again.” You never hear people say, “I wish I were sixty-five.”
He smiled. “You know what that reflects? Unsatisfied lives. Unfulfilledlives. Lives that haven’t found meaning. Because if you’ve found meaning in your life, you don’t want to go back. You want to go forward. You want to see more, do more. You can’t wait until sixty-five. Listen, you should know something. All younger people should know something. If you’re always battling against getting older, you’re always going to be unhappy because it will happen anyhow.” (Albom, 1997, pp. 117–119) Debriefing: From the moment we are born, we age; however, for most people, during the first 20 or so years, our bodies are growing and our minds are ex-panding. As we move into our 30s and 40s, we continue to grow intellectually, yet we stop physically growing, and we begin to detect minor challenges as we age. When we engage in fitness activities, we find it takes longer to get into shape and we get out of shape more quickly when we stop exercising. As we enter our 50s and 60s, we begin to experience physiological and biological declines to our bodies that are associated with the aging process. We may need to increase the power of our eyeglasses so we are able to read road signs while driving, or we benefit from wearing eyeglasses to read.
The changes continue as we age. Although we experience physiological de-clines as we age, there are benefits of aging, as aptly described by Schwartz. Each day we encounter learning opportunities; we have the chance to become wiser with each day that passes. It is amazing what we learn from people who have many years of experience living. We also have chances each day to be-come better human beings. We learn how to treat one another in a more caring and respectful manner.
Aging is one of those occurrences that is viewed as a glass half empty or one that is half full. Morrie seems to view the process of aging and being an older adult as the glass being half full. The following questions will help you reflect on Morrie’s comments:
• What do you think was Morrie’s main point?
• How do you feel about Morrie’s view of aging?
• How do you feel about how Morrie characterizes young adults?
• How do you feel about concerns raised by Mitch?
• If you had a chance to meet Morrie, what would you ask him?