Part of Morrie's personal culture includes taking walks outside, and he shows a great appreciation for nature. Even when he is no longer able to go outside, and even gets a chill sitting next to an open window on an 80-degree day, he still insists on sitting by the window in his office. Nature, the changing of the seasons, and the life cycles of plants with the seasons allude to the cyclical nature of life and death. In particular, Morrie takes great interest in the hibiscus plant outside his window. It is full and vibrant when Mitch begins his Tuesday visits. By the time of Morrie's death, the hibiscus well on its way to losing all of its leaves for the winter. There is sadness in this “death” of the plant – a sadness connected to Morrie’s own death, of course – but there is also joy in the fact that the plant is part of a cycle, that it will live on when spring returns. This idea of the cycle of life becomes increasingly important to Morrie as he approaches death, and is important to the book as well. After all Tuesdays with Morrie can be seens as a kind of rebirth for Morrie, a continuation of his cycle. It comes as no surprise, then, that Morrie is very deliberate in his choice of burial location, making sure to choose a spot that is naturally beautiful. In this way, he ensures that in his death, the living will be able to appreciate life as they admire the beauty around them when visiting his grave. As the weeks progress, Mitch also becomes more attuned to the beauty of the natural world, noticing on his final visit the many plants in Morrie's front yard as he makes the final internal shift towards fully appreciating life in the face of death.
The Natural World and Morrie's Hibiscus Quotes in Tuesdays with Morrie
Then I'd go for a walk, in a garden with some trees, watch their colors, watch the birds, take in the nature that I haven't seen in so long now.
In the evening, we'd all go together to a restaurant with some great pasta, maybe some duck—I love duck—and then we'd dance the rest of the night. I'd dance with all the wonderful dance partners out there, until I was exhausted.
The last class of my old professor's life took place once a week, in his home, by a window in his study where he could watch a small hibiscus plant shed its pink flowers. The class met on Tuesdays. No books were required. The subject was the meaning of life. It was taught from experience.
The teaching goes on.