Manuel is an important and necessary man – Part 1

Paulo Coelho

Manuel needs to be busy. Otherwise he feels that life has no meaning, that he is wasting his time, that society has no need for him, nobody loves him, nobody wants him.

So as soon as he wakes up e has a whole set of tasks to do: watch the news on the television (something may have happened during the night), read the newspaper (something may have happened yesterday), ask his wife not to let the children be late for school, get the car, a taxi, a bus, the subway, but always concentrated, looking into the vacuum, consulting his watch, if possible making a few calls on his cell phone – and making sure that everyone sees that he is an important man, a man useful to the world.

Manuel arrives at work and starts to pore over the pile of paper that awaits him. If he is an employee, he does everything possible for the boss to notice that he arrived on time. If he is the boss, he sets them all to work right away; if there are no important tasks to do, Manuel will see to developing some, creating some, implementing a new plan, establishing new lines of action.

Manuel goes to lunch – but never alone. If he is the boss, he sits down with his friends, discusses new strategies, speaks badly of the competitors, always keeps a card hidden up his sleeve, complains (with a touch of pride) about being overworked. If Manuel is an employee, he also sits down with his friends, complains about the boss, says he is working a lot of overtime, claims in despair (and with a touch of pride) that so much at the firm depends on him.

Manuel – boss or employee – works the whole afternoon. From time to time he looks at his watch, it’s time to go home but he still has a detail to solve here, a document to sign there. He is an honest man; he wants to justify his salary, what others expect of him, the dreams of his parents who went to such great pains to give him the necessary education.

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  1. Josh Kimura says:

    I don't know exactly why, but all I see is that they complained that they're busy (with a touch of pride) or claimed in despair again with touch of pride and it really piss me off. Perhaps it because I want to be the one that complaint with pride or claimed in despair with pride. I dont know but it just pissed me off because it now make sense.

  2. Lukas says:

    Mari Ann, I found a lot of common feelings with my feeling and life in your entry. I have finished my studies 6 years ago, started a carreer, got some skills and knowledge, but I do not feel happy doing it very much, my work is not very useful for the world in my opinion, I think about other paths and fields, I have ideas, which I find more useful, to give more of me to make this world better, I ask Jesus to show me the right way almost every day. I feel I should make some more effort but I am still not sure which way should I make this effort. According to carreer tests I should start another path but I do not know how to use my skills I got so far. I think I know how you feel. Where should I get some sureness:) I’ll see tommorow, what the daz will be.

  3. anthony says:

    Manuel is afraid of his lonliness within…..when he stops and has no tasks to do, then the deeper questions surface and the best way to keep then at bay is to keep busy with the distractions of work, duty to family amd other time filling matters…..I guess that I identify with what I have just said….I jst dropped my littel boy of at school, and I have the day of work, and I now have time on my hands…well as i walked away from the school, and said a couple of ‘good mornings’ to other parents, I all of a sudden became overwhelemed by a deep sense of lonliness, and incompletion….I like to stay busy to avoid that feeling, and when I am in work, well, yes I am busy surrounded by work collegues,important tasks to undertake etc…..but now, here I am so so lonly, and for that reason I came in from the school and came onto the blog and was amazed to see mauel’s story!!! I am married, I have a good job, and a lovely little son……but I am so lonley, and that sense of lonliness moves me to tears…..I know I need to find and be with my completion……so now I have said this, I am going to force myself off to the gym, and do some training, again to avaoid my lonliness…..God Bless

  4. Yza says:

    A lot of us is like Manuel… Maybe not totally the same, but in some way. They provide for a living, they communicate, they contribute to the company/society, etc. What is wrong with that? Is it wrong because they feel they were important? But, that is one way of motivating yourself to go on and live. I can see no problem with that. The only problem, I think, is when Manuel lives without love and not loving at all. As St. Paul says, “If I have everything but do not have love, I am nothing…”

  5. Alexandra says:

    Heart, sorry , for misspellings.Take care.

  6. Alexandra says:

    Great answers Thelma,heart and Mari Ann.Always we need a balance between career and social life. Here comes the real talent, who succeed in realizing it, will have a really happy life.

  7. aditya says:

    “Manuel needs to be busy. Otherwise he feels that life has no meaning, that he is wasting his time”

    poor chap !! when in reality when one is keeping oneslef busy without giving adequate thought to busy for what ? one is wasting not just one’s time but one’s life as well !

    yes ! humans are so morbidly afraid of being alone, being able to realx and enjoy doing nothing, just being, that manuels are the norm, 99.99 % of us are manules !

    in silence, one comes face to face with oneself, which includes a vast emptyness, a fathomless abyss, and of course the joyous peaks but they are revelaed only after one has learnt to remain aware and relaxed !

    people need approval from others because they don’t know themselves, because they have not faced themselves ! but it can change ! any moment we decide.

    to be fair to manuels, it’s they who keep the show going on, it is they who in their sleep and unaware sacrifice of their lives, keep civilisation alive for the awakend once to survive and ‘awaken’, it’s they who buy paulo’s books, because somewhere deep down the faint memory of freedom and salvation lingers on and they do love to dream sometimes, human they are afterall ! however hard one may try to become a machine, an iota of what is divine will always remain ! dorment till it is nurtured into full bloom !


  8. Heart says:

    To interact and build social connections we need to waist time together.

  9. montega says:

    Manuel is just the type of man the world does NOT need. Everybody hates Manuel and they accept his company only for reasosn they are not proud of.
    There should be Manuel-island where all Manuals could do their competing little ego thing amongst themselves and let us get on with our life.
    – because now they don’t! Now Manual nees you and i to applaud him, to give him compliments that never come from the heart. Manuels makes us the oil in his silly senseless little world and Manuels are really quite disgusting, too loud to block out and too boring to pay attention.
    i know too many Manuals, really way too many, – and despite that i know i should wish him the best and hope he’ll get there eventually , – he basically just gets on my nerves.

  10. THELMA says:

    Manuel needs to be busy….

    This first sentence tells everything. Manuel is afraid of being alone. He does not know how to deal with his inner thoughts, doubts, fears, questions. He makes ‘noise’ so that he will stop the music of his Soul, his desires, his dreams…
    I do the same sometimes in the long Sunday afternoons. ;]
    Listen to the song of life..

  11. Mariessima says:

    I agree wth Neela – I somehow saw myself in Mauel.

    But, like Paul: I feel like he is exerting himself too much to prove something to others.

    I believe the next events will “wake” him up..

  12. Dear all,

    -Manuel as the name suggests is living life of “manual, user manual” of some system or device.

    -In these two words, “manuel” to “manual”, he needs some change. for example in these two words, the letter “e” and “a”.

    -May be his life is full of illusion as said by Paul or may be he lives normal life but if you put your steps on his shoes and see the life then Yes, he is living a great life.

    -I don’t see any need for a person to be busy. Those who needs to be busy for family, friends, wife, girlfriend or relationships will always be busy.

    God bless you all !

  13. Irina Black says:

    May be one should be reminded that he is first and foremost Human Being and not Human Doing.

  14. Marie-Christine says:

    Is he the “Manuel” from Barcelona?
    well, I think it is better to go out and get “un bol d’air frais”
    J’aime votre sens de l’humour.

  15. Mari Ann says:

    My mother is very intelligent, but have little education. She was very eager for me to get an education so I never would get trapped at home, dependent on a man. I guess I have studied so much that it has made me financially dependent on my husband – at least for a while.
    Later I have been told by the teachers at college that I should go for a master degree. So I did. If I had been interested in a career, I should have focused more on my work. But the degree is important when I work in the college/university system.
    Still – I know that there are other sides of me that never will get out. According to a professor in psychology I have a Tara personality – a diety that has alle the feminine qualities (21?). Being brought up with 4 brothers – I guess I have many of the male qualities as well….
    Some people want me to work on one profile because I cause confusion when I am a little bit of everything, and I am really hard to “market” as I don’t specialize. There will always be somebody who has specialized and thereby is better when I get into a competition. But my image has to be a little bit of everything – that is who I am. I am a creative and innovative generalist with an internet brain that picks up a little information here, a little bit of information there – and put it all together in fanciful manners in my head. I see so many possibilities that I am scared to go for one. Maybe all the possibilites disappear in the end… (But it sure was fun noticing them as they passed by.) And actually, I do hope some of them will show up again some day. Like Barbie (- but maybe not the X-factor.)
    According to a book by mcKinsey leaders should be generalists. They said something about having an overview and see connections. So the world must have lost a great leader in me. :-) I just never had a strong urge to become a leader. I still think about writing some day, but first I have to finsih studying and being busy with all my organizational work. I have come to a point were I have to make I choice. I have been looking around the last year to find my way, but it is so tempting to get into all sorts of things. Therefore I have hoped that someone else would have made the difficult choices for me.

    If I am to specialize, it should be something that is connected to spirituality. I have a sincere and strong commitment that I cannot take lightly on. And I have an insight that I believe many people who are reading the Bible would like to know more about, while others would do drastic things to silence me. Maybe I should go into the church or turn my back to the church? I know that Jesus will be with me if I choose the one way or the other. Turning my back to the church would probably make my life easier, but I don’t know if it is right to do that.

    My youngest son asked me a few days ago: “Mom, would you be willing to burn at the stake for your belief, like the martyrs?” They had been discussing this at school the same day. I didn’t give him an answer. I just told him that you and I are lucky to know the power. I feel an obligation to tell others about it. But I don’t think I’m willing to burn at the stake, or being sent to an institution for being a mad person in a scientific world.

    So when I have been very busy studying and participating in all these organizations the last years – it also has to do with staying sane, and make sure that people see that I actually am sane. I feel a lot like Manuel – except that I have not put enough time into my work the last year. Walking the to the end of the spiritual path, being a student, working in organizations, trying to keep up a little with friends and family, have been a very demanding combination. The spiritual path has definitely been most demanding, with a feeling of friends and foes working for me and against me. But I have tried to follow an advice from the Warrior of Light: A man was running through a house with a spoon with a few drops of oil. If he was to succeed, he had to both watch the drops on the spoon so he wouldn’t loose the oil. But he also had to watch the surroundings, so he didn’t miss out on what happened there.

    End of the circle – I’m back to Manuel. I still don’t know if I’m doing the right thing with all this education, work for work, work for organizations, little time for family, friends, hobbies…. I need more time for work, but my head and body gets tired of all this. I think I could be perfectly happy just staying at home tending my house and garden like my mother always have done. She is the ultimate caring person who takes care of everybody else without asking much in return. And I don’t think she ever get the ‘thank yous’ that she really deserves.

    Maybe I should retire. Maybe I should write. And while I’m discussing this with myself, I’m hoping for someone to take a decision for me. God or the Universe or whatever you want to call it.
    I want a little bit of everything, and not too much of anything. A tapas life, a life for Tara.

  16. candie b says:

    I say:hey manuel stop and look around,feel,breathe,live.That’s what I would say to him but then he would say to me:I don’t live a boring life,like a boring sunday.I do many things.Then I would say:yes,what about?You”do” things,but do you “feel” things?Where’s your heart in there?Do you feed your soul?But then he would say:shut up,get a life!lol so yeah..knowing my temper,I wouldn’t let this pass,lol.
    yes I have a vivid imagination guys!lol

  17. Alexandra says:

    Poor man, but nowadays if you dont behave that way, you risk to lose job.Only chance is to be your own boss, so you can do as you please.

  18. Catherine says:

    I think i know what is coming next… it sounds like the person and life i used to follow, until i decided to take action and change… ;o)

    needing to be useful and help others… sounds right in theory but hardly practical !?