In my English class, we had to write an essay based on the book Tuesdays with Morrie. This book centers on the story of Morrie, a sociology professor diagnosed with ALS who decided to make his very last lesson on how to live. The following is my favorite quote by him.
“Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted.”
A tension of opposites, Morrie said, and I have to agree—strongly. Life is a struggle, a tug of war with unmerciful opposing sides. Consequently, an untold amount of people tear apart at the seams because the tension is too much. Sadly, I am one of those people. I can’t decide between science or religion, logic or emotion, dreams or reality, needs or wants. It is all so confusing, so contradictory, so frustrating.
“What do you want to do with your life?” is one of the questions that fuel the internal struggle. “I want to go to a university so I can have a stable career to support myself and my family,” is my generic response. However, in the back of my head, I see myself wiping beads of sweat off my sun-kissed face back-packing in a foreign country. “You have to find a high-paying job so you don’t have to struggle the way I did,” says my mom in a firm voice. Her slightly furrowed brows and tightened lips indicate her concern for my future. “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,” says a friend of mine. I want to believe him; I just want to forget everything and plunge into the dream-like world of the unknown. The idea of doing what I love is intriguing, and intoxicating—yet so extreme.
Despite my wildest desires, one thing always holds me back: I have family at home waiting for me at the end of each and every day. My family isn’t much; it’s just my little sister and my mom. However, they are my world and I can’t bear to think about leaving them behind to pursue a dream that won’t allow me to help support them. My sister needs me and my mom needs me too but, as much as I want to, I can’t disappear into the sunset leaving them in the dust. I am torn between what I yearn for (a sense of adventure) and my obligation and loyalty to my family—a prime example of a tension of opposites.
The rest of America has different versions of the same problem. People try to juggle work and family but find themselves in a state of confusion where priorities become a blur. Is a fat paycheck more important than a movie-night with the family? The answer to that varies among us all. To Mitch, the paycheck and the luxury that it brings was clearly more important than his family, but Morrie made him realize one thing: the battle that comes with the tension of opposites always ends with the victory of love.
No matter what crossroads you face in the course of your life, especially with one that has the tension of opposites, love must be taken into consideration in the decision-making process. Wherever there is love, there is joy and contempt and a sense of fulfillment. If love is not a presence in one’s life then living is meaningless.