Taking Attendance

A few weeks following his reunion with Morrie, Mitch flies to London to cover the Wimbledon tennis tournament for the newspaper he works for. Typically, Mitch reads the British tabloids while he is in England, but on this visit, he remembers Morrie and his inevitable death. Mitch thinks of how many hours he has spent on mindless, meaningless endeavors, such as reading the tabloids, and instead wants to use his time as Morrie does, immersed in those endeavors that will enrich his life.

Mitch also remembers what Morrie had told him about rejecting a society's culture if it is not conducive to one's own development. Indeed, Morrie had developed his own culture, involving himself in discussion groups, friends, books, and dancing. Morrie had also created a project called Greenhouse, which provided the poor with mental health services. Unlike Mitch, Morrie had not wasted the precious years of his life. Mitch had developed his own culture of working himself to death, having dedicated his life to earning money. When he is knocked over by a cutthroat swarm of reporters chasing tennis player Andre Agassi and his girlfriend, actress Brooke Shields, Mitch is reminded of Morrie's adage that many people devote their lives to chasing the wrong thing. Mitch has been chasing money, and now realizes he must instead chase love and community, an endeavor that will give him purpose and meaning in his life.

When Mitch returns to Detroit, he learns that the newspaper union to which he belongs has gone on strike, which means his piece will not be published, nor will he be paid for the grueling work he had done while in London. Suddenly, Mitch is left without a job and without a purpose. Depressed, Mitch calls Morrie and arranges to meet with him the following Tuesday.

Mitch Flashes back to his sophomore year of college, when he takes two courses with Morrie as his professor. They meet outside of the classroom to talk, and share a relationship which Mitch has never before experienced with an adult. In talking, Mitch will divulge his problems and concerns to Morrie, and, in turn, Morrie will try to pass on some kind of life lesson. He warns Mitch that money is not the most important thing in the world, and that he must aspire to be "fully human." Morrie acts as a father figure to Mitch, as he cannot have such conversations with his own father, who would like him to be a lawyer, a profession Morrie hates. Instead, Morrie encourages Mitch to pursue his dream of being a famous musician and to continue practicing piano.

The First Tuesday: We Talk about the World

Mitch remembers how much Morrie loves food, and brings an arsenal of treats to his first Tuesday visit. Even in college, Mitch and Morrie had met routinely on Tuesdays, mostly to discuss Mitch's thesis, which Mitch says he wrote at Morrie's suggestion. They slip into conversation easily, as they did when Mitch was in college. When Morrie must go to the bathroom, his aid, Connie, helps him. He remembers telling Ted Koppel in his interview that he feared eventually needing someone else to wipe him after using the toilet, as it is the ultimate sign of dependency. He tells Mitch that this day is fast approaching. However, Morrie admits he is trying to enjoy the process of being a baby once more.

Morrie explains that he now feels an affinity with all people who suffer, even people he reads about in the news, such as the civilian victims of the war in Bosnia. He now cries even for those he has never met before; he admits he cries all the time. Mitch, however, never cries, but says that Morrie has been trying to get him to cry since his college days. Morrie tells Mitch that the most important thing to learn in life is how to give out love, and how to let it come in. He quotes Levine, saying, "Love is the only rational act." Mitch listens intently and takes heart, as he kisses Morrie when he leaves, an unusual display of affection on his part. When they part, Morrie asks Mitch if he will return next the Tuesday.