This week, Mitch has brought a newspaper to show Morrie a particular quote from a media mogul who had recently failed to acquire a television network: "I don't want my tombstone to read 'I never owned a network.'" Mitch wondered if this billionaire found himself in the same position as Morrie, if he'd be concerned about such a thing. Morrie says the issue is with valuing the wrong things.
Money here joins the idea of the media as a negative entity. Note also that this mogul is making jokes about his tombstone when there's no indication that he's anywhere close to death, hence Morrie's bemusement at his statement. Morrie sees the ridiculousness because he is close to death.
Morrie is having a good day after having an a cappella group perform for him the night before. Mitch tells the reader that while Morrie has always loved music, after his diagnosis his love of music has become so strong it makes him cry. Mitch continues addressing the reader directly, saying that while Morrie had always been one for simple pleasures, material things now hold little if any significance for him.
This is connected as well with Morrie's love of dance. He can still enjoy music despite not being able to move to it physically. Morrie is also very entrenched in his personal culture, now that he's completely given up on the modern culture that says he must acquire material items.
Morrie continues the discussion about money, saying that people in the US are brainwashed by hearing over and over again that owning things, having more money, and other such things are good and necessary. Morrie says that he interprets people who are only interested in acquiring new, bigger, and better things as really saying that they're so hungry for love that the things became substitutes. He continues, saying that money and power aren't substitutes for tenderness.
Despite the conversation being about money, true to form, Morrie brings it back to people's need for love. Morrie is also railing against modern culture here, which doesn't value love and connection in the same way as he does.
Mitch looks around, noticing that nothing in Morrie's home is new or upgraded. Despite that, Mitch notes that the house changed drastically, and has become filled with love, teaching, friendship, and a variety of visitors. It was a wealthy home in spite of Morrie's rapidly shrinking bank account.
Mitch recognizes Morrie's house as the culminating symbol of Morrie's culture, filled with all the things and people Morrie finds important.
Morrie discusses the difference between wants and needs, saying then that many of the things we want don't provide satisfaction. Instead, to be satisfied, you must offer others what you have to give in terms of time, concern, or skills, which leads Mitch to compare Morrie to a boy scout. Morrie gives examples like teaching computer skills at a senior center or playing cards with hospital patients as places where people are needed. This, Morrie believes, is how you create a meaningful life: by devoting oneself to loving others, one's community, and creating something that provides purpose and meaning. He grins and pointedly notes that none of that includes a salary.
Mitch's boy scout comment is snarky and emphasizes that he's still not completely on board with what Morrie is saying. Remember, though, that Mitch has been doing exactly what Morrie is saying people need to not do in an attempt to find fulfillment in his own life. His discomfort with Morrie's words indicate that he's uncomfortable having to confront and consider what Morrie is saying and how it applies to his own life.
Mitch pretends to take notes while ruminating that he's spent much of his life pursuing more, nicer things, justifying it by comparing his desires to those of rich and famous athletes. Morrie interrupts Mitch's reverie to tell him that only being open and loving will allow Mitch to float between people of different statuses.
Mitch's discomfort is obvious, as he pretends to take notes so he can take in what Morrie's saying. Morrie's final thought here acknowledges that Mitch basically has to exist in modern culture, but that he can use Morrie's culture to exist more happily there.
Morrie asks Mitch why he thinks it's so important for Morrie to listen to the problems of others even while he's suffering and dying. Answering his own question, Morrie says that giving to people by listening to them is how he feels alive and even healthy. In this way, he says, people can avoid envy and dissatisfaction because giving time in this way provides purpose.
We see the real reason for Morrie's continued optimism as he poses and answers the question. Morrie still feels like he can contribute to his community by giving time and a listening ear.