The Rejection of Popular Cultural Mores in Favor of Self-created Values
Each of Morrie's lessons contributes to a larger, all-encompassing message that each individual, Mitch especially, should reject popular cultural values, and instead develop his own. As Morrie sees it, popular culture is a dictator under which the human community must suffer. In his own life, Morrie has fled this cultural dictatorship in favor of creating his own culture founded on love, acceptance, and open communication. He develops his own culture as a revolt against the media-driven greed, violence and superficiality which has tarnished the mores promoted by popular culture. Morrie encourages Mitch to free himself of this corrupt, dictatorial culture in favor of his own, and it is only when he does that he begins to reassess his life and rediscover fulfillment.
"Love Or Perish"
Morrie recites a quote by his favorite poet, W. H. Auden, to encompass one of his most important lessons to Mitch: in the absence of love, there is a void that can be filled only by loving human relationships. When love abounds, Morrie says, a person can experience no higher sense of fulfillment. Throughout his fourteen Tuesday lessons with Mitch, Morrie divulges that love is the essence of every person, and every relationship, and that to live without it, as Auden says, is to live with nothing. The importance of love in his life is especially clear to Morrie as he nears his final days, for without the meticulous care of those he loves, and who love him, he would perish. Morrie clings to life not because he is afraid of dying or because he fears what will become of him in the afterlife, but because his greatest dying wish is to share his story with Mitch so that he may share it with the world. Morrie clings just long enough to divulge the essence of his story, then releases himself to death, leaving Mitch and his audience with the message that love brings meaning to experience, and that without it, one may as well be dead.
Acceptance Through Detachment
In his quest to accept his impending death, Morrie consciously "detaches himself from the experience" when he suffers his violent coughing spells, all of which come loaded with the possibility of his last breath. Morrie derives his method of detachment from the Buddhist philosophy that one should not cling to things, as everything that exists is impermanent. In detaching, Morrie is able to step out of his tangible surroundings and into his own state of consciousness, namely for the sake of gaining perspective and composure in a stressful situation. Morrie does not intend to stop feeling or experiencing in his detachment, but instead, wants to experience wholly, for it is only then that he is able to let go, to detach from a life-threatening experience which renders him fearful and tense. He does not want to die feeling upset, and in these frightening moments, detaches so that he may accept the impermanence of his life and embrace his death, which he knows may come at any moment.