I recommend Everyman to every man and every woman going through a mid-life crisis. Or to those who are helplessly confused because their immoral actions these days do not reflect who they thought they were: people with unshifting morals.
This short yet thought-provoking book cleverly demonstrates how certain choices driven either by: sheer boredom; the craving for newness; the thrill of the moment; a desperate act to relive youth; an aversion from monotony; an untamed impulse or an indescribable need for instant gratification – will eventually lead men and women astray, dropping them casually into a bottomless hole. And only as these men and women experience the alienating effects of aging (though it could happen much earlier), will they fully comprehend the monstrosity of their past actions, and how much pain they have inflicted on their loved ones along the way. Even more so on themselves.
Unfortunately, there is such a thing as an irreversible mistake and it is usually born out of recklessness.
If you’re someone who often thinks about all of the above, you will enjoy reading Everyman by the American author Philip Roth. If you are someone who is on the other side of the spectrum (living in la-la land and thinking you are immune to life’s adversaries) then this book may not be the right one for you.
Everyman is a novel – raw and uncomfortably real. It is about one man’s intimate story through the different stages of his life. It is a fictional memoir dealing with one man’s realisations, limitations, losses and regrets. It is about a man journeying through life and standing on the edge of the abyss. It reflects on the anticipation and inevitability of death, and if you dig deeper – it is a study of complex human relationships. Its style is simple yet profound. It is bound to leave a deep imprint.
The protagonist says and I quote: ‘Old age isn’t a battle. Old age is a massacre’. The older you get the more tolerant you will be of Everyman and the more you surround yourself and spend time with old people, the more it will make sense to you. Read it – it will gift you more awareness.
Not so long ago, I stumbled upon this gem of a book over 100 hundred years old. Brilliantly written and still remarkably in tune with our time, as strange and complicated as it is (our time that is). The coincidental stumble was a lucky one and I found myself effortlessly immersed in its powerful message and intrigued by its simplicity and relevance. It was one of those enlightening books far from the mainstream types. The types that convince you that ‘you are not your thoughts’ in fifty different ways and have somehow managed to sit under the throne of bestsellers. I am skeptical of these books and I’ve read many (despite some of the authentic research invested in them and sweat spilt over them). Why? Because I have a problem with the common and repetitive statement claiming to be a universal truth: ‘our thoughts are not us’. How can that be if our thoughts were created by our very own minds? Maybe a simplistic view to some but I trust what my own experiences have taught me, what my reflections have shown me and I even trust what my logic has proven to me – and that’s what I will go with. Do not misunderstand me. I am not claiming we do not have the power or the tools to reinvent our thoughts or change our perspectives. Nor do I believe that our thoughts do not affect the way we live. I am simply against the notion that we are not our thoughts. We are our thoughts AND we have the power to change them. That’s what I believe. And that’s what James Allen affirms.
James Allen is the Englishman who wrote the 100+ year-old book: As A Man Thinketh(published in 1903). In his book, Allen manages to cleverly dismantle and explain where my belief stems from so that it makes sense to the deep and the not-so-deep – using a few convincing arguments based on his own experiences and reflections. This little book is delightful and delightfully easy to follow.
I consider it a handbook and a practical guide to the power of thinking. It does not boast itself as the ‘truth’. What it does though is make you (the reader) understand that our mind is the ‘master power’ that ‘shapes our lives for good or ill’. And it does this by inspiring you to open up your mind rather than overwhelming you with burdensome studies and steps to follow. If we believe that our mind is the master power and we are the masters of this power – then we are ultimately the ‘authors of our own characters and thus the makers of our own destinies’. In his view, our characters are actually ‘the sum total of our thoughts over time’. He makes a lot of sense.
I love how he touches on some important themes that orchestrate the way we live or lead our lives. He covers themes such as how thoughts shape our circumstances; how circumstances do not shape us, they reveal us; the power of the mind and its tools; how health and appearance are shaped by our thoughts; the power of having a purpose; how good thinking equals success; how to cherish our visions and ideals; and the importance of achieving serenity.
I am not going to elaborate further because I am hoping you would just pick up the book and read it. All you need is two hours, even less but I am playing it safe! I promise you that once you’re done reading As a Man Thinketh you will feel as good as new! In the meantime, enjoy this quote I love by James Allen: ‘Cherish the music that moves your heart. For out of your love will flow your purpose’.