A Man's Journey to Simple Abundance [NOOK Book]

Overview

The Authentic Journey Continues -- for Women to Understand Men, and for Men to Understand Themselves.
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A Man's Journey to Simple Abundance

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Overview

The Authentic Journey Continues -- for Women to Understand Men, and for Men to Understand Themselves.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

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Our Reviews
"My philosophy celebrates living authentically," explains Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of the bestselling Simple Abundance books. In her new volume, A Man's Journey to Simple Abundance, Ban Breathnach realizes this philosophy once more by collecting more than 50 essays that describe men's experience. Each essay focuses on a different aspect of men's lives, but each speaks truly about what men know.

What men know, of course, is a lot. In A Man's Journey, we find essays about everything from family to solitude, from work to diversion. Editor Michael Segell, best known for his "Men's Mind" column in Esquire magazine, sorts these essays into general sections that, put together, describe every man's passage. The essays trace men's origins, struggles, duties, dreams, philosophies, and hobbies. They form a blurred map to a man's world.

But though the book as a whole describes every man's journey, each essay insists on the singularity of one man's path. The essays are unselfconscious, open -- authentic. In "A Broken Heart," for example, writer Charles Siebert details his father's death in terms as personal as they are blunt. He writes: "I realized that for the sake of the brave, quietly dignified man in the room behind me, I should start to get a grip. I remember actually asking him at one point in the throes of my heart hysteria how he did it, how he lived from day to day knowing how frail his heart was. 'Well,' he said, looking a bit startled by his clever son's fatuousness, 'what choice do I have?' " Siebert's quiet depiction of failure -- the failure of his father's heart, the failure of his own empathy -- moves us more than treacly heroism ever could. His experience is unique and rings true.

A Man's Journey includes the reflections of many such startling writers. But it also includes the notes and ruminations of nonwriters. Millard Fuller, the millionaire who founded Habitat for Humanity, provides a plainspoken account of his life's lowest point. Dr. Charles Simonyi, an elite programmer at Microsoft, enthuses about the moment in which he understood order. And Sting, the musician and songwriter, offers a genuine, understated history of his life's risks. "True risk, that sudden leap into cold water, can carry you into a state of grace," he explains. "Coincidences, synchronicity, chance, karmic charm, it doesn't matter what you call it; there's a positive force that intervenes to cover your back. Things click. It makes sense because true risk is the only thing that forces spiritual and emotional growth so immediately, so dramatically."

The men whose essays appear here speak from widely divergent perspectives. But each speaks honestly, authentically, about the experiences that form him. In collecting these essays, Sarah Ban Breathnach and Michael Segell have created an outline of men's journeys that acknowledges the specificity of each man’s path. It's a collection worth reading for its breadth and scope -- and for its singular, startling passages.

--Jesse Gale

Some men tend to keep their distance from self-help books for fear that the advice will be too "touchy-feely" and attempt to force them to go against who they are. With that in mind, Sarah Ban Breathnach, bestselling author of the Simple Abundance series, has created a book just for men: A Man's Journey to Simple Abundance. This latest work is a compendium of essays by men about men, and it's designed both for men and for women who are interested in a better understanding of the world men live in today.

The contributors are a varied lot, and there is a diversity of careers represented: from rock stars to writers to professional hunters. There are six sections to this book, with essays by such luminaries as Roy Blount Jr., Harold Evans, Rick Bass, Tim Cahill, and Sting.

The pieces range from thoughtful to humorous, with such topics as "Fathers to the Community" and "Ten Things I Hope My Kids Learn Sooner Than I Did." There are also essays about work, money, success, and, of course, those mysterious creatures, women.

With this enriching collection, everyone can find something to treasure in each essay.

Jennifer J. Jarett is a freelance writer living in New York City.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The creator of the mega-selling series aims to expand the simplicity movement's magic to the male market. With no less an ideal than bringing men and women closer together, Breathnach and collaborator Segell, an MSNBC and New York Daily News columnist, have assembled 52 original essays that succeed remarkably well in depicting men's feelings and complexity. The stellar contributors include novelists Rick Bass, Jim Harrison, Larry Brown, Richard Bausch and musician/activist Sting as well as a champion surfer, an army general, a rabbi (bestselling author Shmuley Boteach) and a hermit who writes amusingly on solitude. Distinguished across the board by their honesty, a number of the pieces are moving, such as Christopher Dickey's account of finally coming to terms with his father, poet James Dickey, or a businessman's empathetic account of his wife's battle with breast cancer. Others are funny (such as Roy Blount Jr.'s suggestion that weddings be centered around the groom in "The Great Groomal Expo"), enlightening (Benjamin Cheever on what he thinks makes a woman beautiful) and shocking (a photographer tells of brutal killings he witnessed in Soweto, South Africa). At times, however, the commentary linking the essays to Simple Abundance precepts of gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty and joy feels imposed and unnecessary given the caliber of the writing and contributors' depth of feeling. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This is a series of vignettes from a cross-section of prominent people, including photojournalist Greg Morinavitch, Sting, Charles Simony, Ben Cheever, and Thomas Moore, designed to promote better self-understanding for men and the women who love them. The stories cover major spiritual and physical issues, such as conscience, harmony, beauty, joy, and money, with Ban Breathnach providing the commentary. Memorable among them is a piece on the difference between risk-taking and thrill-seeking by Sting, who says that risk saved his soul and his biggest risk now is being happy; how a 30-year-old hermit, after two failed relationships, finds peace and contentment in the woods; the importance of order, which, according to Simony, the chief architect of Microsoft, helps men center their lives. Many of the tales are very moving and provide new insight into the human condition; they are interspersed with lists of ten things for men to remember and women to know, which lighten the mood and help the listener to relax. The narration by Murphy Guyer is well done, with the author's voice a nice counterpoint. Recommended for public and academic libraries.--Marjorie Lemon, SRCF-Mercer, PA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743221894
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 2/21/2001
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 448
  • File size: 3 MB

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Read an Excerpt


UPON READING THIS BOOK
Man and woman He created them.
Book of Genesis

From ancient times we have been told that human beings were created in Spirit's image. However, as the acclaimed television journalist Bill Moyers reminds us, "being made in the likeness of God does not mean we were made to think alike."

Especially women and men.

One of my favorite parts of the Bible is the story of Adam and Eve. I find it fascinating that there are two startling accounts of creation in the Book of Genesis, and they completely contradict each other. One could be called Eve's recollection, which has God creating both masculine and feminine energy in a single breath. In Adam's version, of course, he comes first. This original "He Says/She Says" also amused Mark Twain, who wrote The Diary of Adam and Eve, tracing the battle of the sexes back to the observation, "The new creature with the long hair is a good deal in the way. It is always hanging around and following me about. I don't like this; I am not used to company."

To tell the truth, since I'm an incurable romantic, I actually prefer Adam's version because it's the original love story. After Adam is created, he wanders through Eden and then asks the inevitable question of his Maker: "Why are there two of every living creature but me?" God realizes that it's not good for man to be alone. I have always wondered if Spirit created a companion for Adam as an afterthought, or was He just waiting patiently for Adam to have an epiphany? Something or someone was missing.

So Adam is told to take a nap and when he does he has a wild dream. In it, God uses one of his ribs to craft the first soul mate. I think this imagery is exquisite. God removes a bone from the barrier that protects a man's heart to create the woman meant to fill it. The poet e.e. cummings describes this miracle best: "One's not half of two, it's two that are halves of one."

I think A Man's Journey to Simple Abundance deepens and broadens the eternal romance between Adam and Eve. Certainly, it was written in the spirit of bringing men and women closer together by revealing our similarities, not just our differences. Part owner's manual, part guidebook, A Man's Journey to Simple Abundance examines the private pilgrimages that occur in every man's life and the compass that steers him toward life's true north.

One of the most unexpected and meaningful compliments I've received about Simple Abundance is that it has enabled men to understand what's really important to the women they love -- whether it's their wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, or friends. As one man put it, "You've given men the Rosetta stone." We've tried to accomplish the same thing here. I say "we" because this book has been a collaborative effort of the first magnitude.

There's a reason it's taken so long for there to be a men's Simple Abundance. The heart of my philosophy celebrates living authentically. Being a woman, I know how a woman thinks, feels, frets, and loves. But as much as I adore men, I understand as much about them as Eve did on her first day in Eden. Realizing and honoring the differences between the sexes, I knew that if there was to be a men's version of Simple Abundance, I'd need the right collaborator to help me explore the last great spiritual adventure, the quest for understanding male emotions. I found him in Michael Segell, the former "Male Mind" columnist for Esquire and the author of Standup Guy: Masculinity That Works, a personal and provocative dispatch from behind the front lines of the gender wars. Think of us as agents provocateurs dedicated to getting men and women together again on the page. All of the introductions before each essay were written by Michael Segell except for one, which I wrote. Frequently, though, the essays triggered such a personal reaction in me that I felt compelled to flash a feminine response afterward.

For my women readers, I believe this book will surprise you as much as it did me. To begin with, the format is completely different from the original Simple Abundance, which was written as one side of an intimate conversation between two women over the course of a year. In A Man's Journey there are more than fifty male voices illuminating what it means to be a man today with a courage and candor that is at times unsettling but always life-affirming. The topics the men explore celebrate how and where the sacred manifests in their daily lives, and often it's not where a woman might think. Some of the essays are philosophical, some heart-wrenching, some humorous, some ruminative, some just plain quirky, but all are compelling. Authenticity pushes us past our comfort zone, so please be open. The territory may seem unfamiliar at times. At the very least, after reading these essays, you and your partner can look forward to a year's worth of stimulating conversations (besides discussing the kids, money, chores, and how exhausted you both are).

For me, working on this book felt like living on a fault line of the soul; I never knew when my own tectonic plates were going to start shifting, and the aftershocks were equally profound. I believe you'll be as moved as I was by the deep emotional honesty of the writing, whether it makes you laugh or cry. Like the best books, A Man's Journey to Simple Abundance does both.

Toward the end of Adam and Eve's diary (as channeled by Mark Twain), the woman confides: "The Garden is lost, but I have found him, and am content." As for the man, he admits, "Wheresoever she was, there was Eden."

Man or woman, may this book bless you with equally surprising truths and extraordinary perceptions. Perhaps we will have another shot at experiencing Heaven on earth together. At least it's worth a read.

-- Sarah Ban Breathnach, July 2000

Copyright © 2000 by Simple Abundance, Inc.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Upon Reading This Book 13
Introduction 17
Part 1 Latitude and Longitude
Mothers: Like Mother, Like Son 23
Fathers: The Family Album 33
Gratitude: Love in All the Right Places 40
Daughters: Like Father, Like Daughter 47
Sons: Separate and Shared Agenda 55
Siblings: Mirror Image 60
Thoughts for the Road: Ten Things I Wish I'd Said to My Father 67
Part 2 Private Pilgrimages
Vulnerability: A Broken Heart 71
Simplicity: As It Is 83
Therapy: Vision Quest 91
Balls: You Only Need One 101
Fear: The Bravest Thing I Ever Did 108
Vanity: A Man and His Hair 118
Mood: The Tyranny of Gloom 124
Conscience: The Burden of Truth 130
Meditation: The Question of Zen 140
Solitude: The Hermit 145
Thoughts for the Road: Ten Things Every Man Worth His Salt Should Know How to Do 152
Part 3 Rules of the Road
Heroes: The Chief 155
Order: How Things Work 162
Patriotism: A Higher Calling 170
Risk: Let Your Soul Be Your Bookie 175
Resilience: Love Among the Ruins 180
Faith: My Problem with Prayer 190
Courage: To Thine Own Self 197
Loyalty: Coffee and Sympathy 204
Boundaries: Fathers to the Community 212
Mentoring: In loco parentis 218
Thoughts for the Road: Ten Things I Hope My Kids Learn Sooner Than I Did 225
Part 4 Islands of Fame and Fortune
Money: You Can Never Lose Enough 229
Harmony: Making Perfect Dirt 239
Recruitment: A Professor for All Seasons 245
Work: Blood, Sweat, and Cheers 255
Listening: Finding Your Calling 262
Chance: A Planned Life Can Only Be Endured 273
Failure: To Err Greatly 279
Rewards: A Lucky Choice 286
Freedom: The Wild Blue Yonder 292
Thoughts for the Road: Ten Questions a Man Should Know the Answers To 303
Part 5 Diversions and Detours
Humor: Accustomed to Her Laughter 307
Beauty: Eye of the Beholder 313
The Wedding: The Great Groomal Expo 321
Companions: Heartbeat of the Running Dog 327
Cars: Hers Is a Lush Situation 337
Fans: They Killed Our Fathers and Grandfathers and Now the Sonsabitches Are Coming for Us 345
Hunting: Basic Instinct 352
Icons: Some Real Good Men 360
Lifestyle: In the Tube 367
Thoughts for the Road: Ten Things I Want My Lover/Partner/Wife to Know 372
Part 6 True North
Soulmate: First Love, Again 375
Authentic Success: Hero to His Children 385
Redemption: The Love of a Good Woman 396
Death: Beyond the Chrysalis 402
Joy: Cultivating Life As an Act of Love 410
Thoughts for the Road: Ten Things Every Man Should Keep in Mind at All Times 417
With Thanks and Appreciation 419
Selected Bibliography 423
Contributor Biographies 429
Index 439
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

UPON READING THIS BOOK

Man and woman He created them.
Book of Genesis

From ancient times we have been told that human beings were created in Spirit's image. However, as the acclaimed television journalist Bill Moyers reminds us, "being made in the likeness of God does not mean we were made to think alike."

Especially women and men.

One of my favorite parts of the Bible is the story of Adam and Eve. I find it fascinating that there are two startling accounts of creation in the Book of Genesis, and they completely contradict each other. One could be called Eve's recollection, which has God creating both masculine and feminine energy in a single breath. In Adam's version, of course, he comes first. This original "He Says/She Says" also amused Mark Twain, who wrote The Diary of Adam and Eve, tracing the battle of the sexes back to the observation, "The new creature with the long hair is a good deal in the way. It is always hanging around and following me about. I don't like this; I am not used to company."

To tell the truth, since I'm an incurable romantic, I actually prefer Adam's version because it's the original love story. After Adam is created, he wanders through Eden and then asks the inevitable question of his Maker: "Why are there two of every living creature but me?" God realizes that it's not good for man to be alone. I have always wondered if Spirit created a companion for Adam as an afterthought, or was He just waiting patiently for Adam to have an epiphany? Something or someone was missing.

So Adam is told to take a nap and when he does he has a wild dream. In it, God uses one of his ribs to craft the first soul mate. I think this imagery is exquisite. God removes a bone from the barrier that protects a man's heart to create the woman meant to fill it. The poet e.e. cummings describes this miracle best: "One's not half of two, it's two that are halves of one."

I think A Man's Journey to Simple Abundance deepens and broadens the eternal romance between Adam and Eve. Certainly, it was written in the spirit of bringing men and women closer together by revealing our similarities, not just our differences. Part owner's manual, part guidebook, A Man's Journey to Simple Abundance examines the private pilgrimages that occur in every man's life and the compass that steers him toward life's true north.

One of the most unexpected and meaningful compliments I've received about Simple Abundance is that it has enabled men to understand what's really important to the women they love — whether it's their wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, or friends. As one man put it, "You've given men the Rosetta stone." We've tried to accomplish the same thing here. I say "we" because this book has been a collaborative effort of the first magnitude.

There's a reason it's taken so long for there to be a men's Simple Abundance. The heart of my philosophy celebrates living authentically. Being a woman, I know how a woman thinks, feels, frets, and loves. But as much as I adore men, I understand as much about them as Eve did on her first day in Eden. Realizing and honoring the differences between the sexes, I knew that if there was to be a men's version of Simple Abundance, I'd need the right collaborator to help me explore the last great spiritual adventure, the quest for understanding male emotions. I found him in Michael Segell, the former "Male Mind" columnist for Esquire and the author of Standup Guy: Masculinity That Works, a personal and provocative dispatch from behind the front lines of the gender wars. Think of us as agents provocateurs dedicated to getting men and women together again on the page. All of the introductions before each essay were written by Michael Segell except for one, which I wrote. Frequently, though, the essays triggered such a personal reaction in me that I felt compelled to flash a feminine response afterward.

For my women readers, I believe this book will surprise you as much as it did me. To begin with, the format is completely different from the original Simple Abundance, which was written as one side of an intimate conversation between two women over the course of a year. In A Man's Journey there are more than fifty male voices illuminating what it means to be a man today with a courage and candor that is at times unsettling but always life-affirming. The topics the men explore celebrate how and where the sacred manifests in their daily lives, and often it's not where a woman might think. Some of the essays are philosophical, some heart-wrenching, some humorous, some ruminative, some just plain quirky, but all are compelling. Authenticity pushes us past our comfort zone, so please be open. The territory may seem unfamiliar at times. At the very least, after reading these essays, you and your partner can look forward to a year's worth of stimulating conversations (besides discussing the kids, money, chores, and how exhausted you both are).

For me, working on this book felt like living on a fault line of the soul; I never knew when my own tectonic plates were going to start shifting, and the aftershocks were equally profound. I believe you'll be as moved as I was by the deep emotional honesty of the writing, whether it makes you laugh or cry. Like the best books, A Man's Journey to Simple Abundance does both.

Toward the end of Adam and Eve's diary (as channeled by Mark Twain), the woman confides: "The Garden is lost, but I have found him, and am content." As for the man, he admits, "Wheresoever she was, there was Eden."

Man or woman, may this book bless you with equally surprising truths and extraordinary perceptions. Perhaps we will have another shot at experiencing Heaven on earth together. At least it's worth a read.

— Sarah Ban Breathnach, July 2000

Copyright © 2000 by Simple Abundance, Inc.

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide


Reading Group Guide

Questions for Men

1. Many of the essayists -- particularly Mark Winegardner -- refer to the influence of their mothers. What areas of the authors' lives were most influenced by their mothers? What impact did your mother have on your life? Did she play a particular role in shaping your career decisions or personal choices?

2. In the preface to the book's "Fathers" section, Michael Segell writes, "How sad it is that so many of us seem to know and appreciate our fathers better in death than in life." Do you think this belated understanding of fathers is true of daughters as well as sons? If so, why? Generally speaking, do men or women have an easier time relating to their fathers, and why? Also, as Charles Siebert's essay points out, it seems men often draw closer to their fathers only in times of tragedy or severe need. Why do you think this is? Are there examples from your life, or the lives of friends and family, that mirror this?

3. Recall Nelson Aldrich's distressing tale about his family's wealth. Who taught you financial lessons, your mother or father? Both? Neither? How do you cope with economic hardship, or react to prosperity? How does this differ from the women you've known and their attitudes to money?

4. There are many essays about being or having a mentor. Have you ever been a mentor to someone outside your family? How did you and the other person benefit from the relationship? Were your favorite teachers men or women? Compare them to other men or women who have influenced you. Is there any trait these role models share?

5. Several essayists -- including Daniel Menaker and Tim Cahill -- refer to anxiety disorders. Have you ever suffered from a similar ailment? Have your male friends? What causes you the most anxiety? Do you believe men are more or less prone to anxiety than women? Why?

6. In his essay on men's moods, Robert Johnson refers to four faculties outlined by Carl Jung -- thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. How do the men display these faculties in the essays? Of the four faculties, is there one that seems more prevalent than others throughout the book?

Questions for Women

7. Roger Evans writes, "Even though I knew clinically what Laura was up against, I just had this confidence and resolute feeling that cancer had picked on the wrong person." This stubborn opposition to life's challenges is often seen as a shortcoming in men, but these essays tend to show it in the service of compassion and loyalty. Are there other masculine traits associated with negative stereotypes that you saw in a more positive light in these essays? Are there traits or tendencies on display in this book that you don't typically equate with men?

8. Sting writes, "What was I thinking? Well, I wasn't. There seems to be very little cognitive process associated with risks." Which essayists assess risks carefully and which plunge into change with little thought of consequences? How do these men approach risk differently than you would as a woman?

9. Geoffrey Norman writes about raising risk-taking daughters, often in the face of criticism from others. Is this typical of the way men you know have raised their daughters? If not, how is it different? As a woman, do you agree with his approach? Would you feel differently if it were a son?

10. Do you participate in physical practices or routines that constitute a "form of meditation," as Elwood Reid put it? If so, what are they? In general, what is your relationship toward physical exertion? What do you think of the men in the book who crave athletic or physical regimens? Do you share that desire? If so, do you think it's for the same reason men do?

11. Are the men in your life more or less spiritual than the women you know? Have you ever argued with a man about spirituality and religion? What was the root of the conflict? Conversely, have you ever felt strongly attuned to a man's sense of spirituality?

12. Could any of these essays have been written by a woman? Why or why not?

Questions for Men and Women

13. In the introduction, Sarah Ban Breathnach writes of the book: "Certainly, it was written in the spirit of bringing men and women closer together by revealing our similarities, not just our differences." Did this book make you feel closer to the opposite gender? If so, how? Does the book as a whole suggest there is a uniformity or consistency to the male perspective?

14. Which essay resonated most with your own life? Which was the farthest from your own experience? What did you learn from each?

15. Discuss Greg Marinovich's essay on photographing atrocities. Does this ability to witness violence without intervening seem particularly male to you? If you are a man, could you imagine taking the photographs Marinovich took with a relatively steady hand? If you are a woman, do you think you could distance yourself from your moral outrage in such circumstances?

16. Gallagher Polyn's essay confronts the issue of men's health. Are physical illnesses more alienating for men than for women? Is it more socially difficult to be a stricken man than a sick woman? If so, why? What are the differences in the way our culture views illness in each gender?

17. Does either sex have a greater ability to deal with solitude? Does either sex crave it more? What different joys do men and women experience in solitude? If you could choose any amount of time to "get away from it all," how long would you take, where would you go, and what would you do?

18. Several essays grapple with the notion of questioning one's purpose. Have you traditionally thought of this as a manly dilemma? Do you think men or women tend to be more restless? In what areas of life are men and women more likely to make drastic changes?

19. Bruce Main writes: "...I learned that our best mentors and lifetime guides could be found in the characters of a novel..." In what ways have fictional characters affected your decision-making? What books have had the most formative effect on you and how, specifically, did they change you?

20. In the spirit of the lists throughout the book, compose the following lists and share them with others in the group:

  • Ten Things Women Should Learn to Accept About Men
  • Ten Things Men Should Try to Change About Themselves
  • Ten Traits of Your Favorite Men
  • Ten Traits of Your Favorite Women
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