In his 1897 prose poem, Les Nourritures terrestres, André Gide writes
A not sufficiently constant thought of death has given an insufficient value to the tiniest moments of your life. Don’t you understand that each moment would not take on such incomparable vividness if it were not detached, so to speak, on the dark background of death?
Despite being written two decades before Morrie Schwartz was born, this is an excellent encapsulation of the philosophy he expressed over the last months of his life, and which Mitch Albom recounts in Tuesdays with Morrie. Morrie knows that he is facing imminent death, and it is against this background that he determines to make the most of life. In extension, he takes it upon himself to teach Albom and others how to do so. The proximity of death has forced Morrie to evaluate what is really important in his life, and he comes to the conclusion that building and maintaining connections with those around him is of paramount importance.
As Gide says that people generally fail to value life because they do not think enough about death, Morrie sees those around him behaving as though they will live forever and have time for endless trivia, whether this takes the form of petty resentments, or an unending pursuit of wealth and approval. Morrie comes to see that the cure for such irrationality in his own case has been to accept his own death. He has decided to devote what remains of his life to matters of genuine importance. How to accomplish this, and the transformative effects of doing so, provide the central theme of Tuesdays with Morrie.