Manuel is an important and necessary man – Part 2

Paulo Coelho


Finally he returns home. He takes a shower, gets into some comfortable clothes and sits down to have dinner with his family. He asks the children about school, his wife how she spent the day. Now and again he talks about his work, just to serve as an example – because he does not like to bring worries home. Dinner over, the children – who are not the least bit interested in examples, duties or any such things – immediately leave the table and go to sit in front of the computer. Manuel too goes to sit down in front of that old apparatus from his childhood called the television. Again he watches the news (something may have happened in the afternoon).

He always goes to bed with some technical book on the bedside table – whether boss or employee, he knows that the competition is great and that if you do not keep up, you run the risk of losing your job and then have to face the worst of all curses: unemployment.

He talks to his wife for a while – after all, he is a gentle, hardworking and loving man who cares for his family and is ready to defend it in any circumstances. Sleep comes soon and Manuel falls asleep knowing that the next day he will be very busy, so he needs to recoup his energies.

That night Manuel has a dream. An angel asks him: “Who do you do this?” He replies that he is a responsible man.

The angel then asks: “Would you be able to stop just for fifteen minutes during the day and look at the world, at yourself, and just do nothing?” Manuel says that he would love to, but he does not have the time for that. “You’re trying to fool me,” says the angel. “Everybody has the time for that, what they lack is courage. Work is a blessing when it helps us to think about what we are doing. But is becomes a curse when its only use is to prevent us from thinking about what our life means.”

Manuel wakes up in the middle of the night, covered in a cold sweat. Courage? How can a man who sacrifices himself for his family not have the courage to stop for fifteen minutes?

Best to go back to sleep, it’s only a dream, such questions lead nowhere, and tomorrow is going to be a very busy day.

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  1. tata pontimayor says:

    The story of Manuel reminds me of the the words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes. Everything is vanity and striving after wind. So i live my life day by day and enjoy God’s blessings.

  2. Dances With Crayons says:

    I’m feeling thankful…so full of appreciation and Joy! Taking time to be alone with god, to listen to my soul is something I love to do every day. It is the only way I can digest certain things, learn more about me, then find strength to forge ahead on the open road. Sometimes I have had to fight for this.

    The amount of time spent with my now-grown children is short, and we enjoy get-togethers. Each of us have very different personalities and interests. I think they are beautiful from the inside out!
    WOW. Thank you Paulo, for sharing this story. : )

  3. Gabriela Abalo says:

    Our greatest fear is to realize that we are not living our life to the fullest, that we are actually rushing through it with the conviction that happiness is waiting for us ahead… tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, once we have achieved all the milestones established by society. We are afraid of looking at ourselves and then realize that we are not happy, that we do not like who we are, we are afraid of not being able to change or not being able to know what we want to change as we have forgotten who we really are.

    I loved reading “Manual is an important and necessary man” it describes how are we living today and that truth sucks 

  4. Lily says:

    Marie-Christine… tres beau!! Merci pour le partage.

  5. Dances With Crayons says:

    I noticed in this story, that there is very little personal interaction and exchange…Enthusiasm to see each other, sharing around the dinner table. Manuel speaks ‘to’ rather than ‘with’ his partner.

    I love the invitation from the angels! Great story, thank you Paulo : )

  6. LUDMILA says:

    Unfortunately, in everybody of us exists Manuel, we have all our responsibilities which became our life,sometimes they eat us more often that we want.We have to learn to say – enough, no, stop – and to DO it,then our angel will be glad…

  7. Marie-Christine says:

    L’auteur de ma vie,

    “Je suis l’auteur de ma vie
    Les succes et les echecs,
    Les joies et les querelles,

    J’auditionne tous les jours
    Les personnages et je decide
    Qui partira et qui restera.

    Oui, je suis l’auteur de ma vie.

    Je choisis egalement le cadre
    Montagne, ville ou mer.
    Est-ce que ce sera une comedie,
    Epopee ou tragedie?

    Cette decision repose sur moi.

    Je decide qui aura le role principal,
    Bien entendu, le role principal
    C’est moi qui le tiendrait.

    Pendant des heures et des heures,
    Je repete pour que ce personnage
    Devienne une benediction ou une malediction.

    Accordez-vous un peu de temps pour reflechir
    Et devenez l’auteur de votre vie.”

    Nicholas Lentinel

  8. THELMA says:

    Mari Ann, you made me smile!! You are right!! The point is if he is ‘sleeping’ with his wife or if they just … share their bed, being so tired and absorbed in his own World!! ;]

    My comment here has nothing to do with my comment above about my father-family man, because 50 years ago life was different..

  9. Mari Ann says:

    Manuel shouldn’t complain. He is still sharing bedroom with his wife. There is still hope….

  10. Lily says:

    I think you are misunderstanding Mr.Coelho, he is Not judging anyone, he is just giving the circumstances of the story so that we can see why a person is so upset and meaningless. Neither is he blaming anyone, being a man of wisdom, having written books that touch the core of every individual, the human condition, he is aware that people act a certain way because of certain reasons, just because he talks about them does not mean he is judging or blaming!
    I agree with you that any meaning is better than no meaning. I guess we have to go down in the ditch to stop caring and taking the world on our shoulders!

  11. Anca says:

    Manuel….god is with us…

    It doesn’t even amaze me anymore, dearest Paulo, that this story comes to align with the strangest coincidences that make the mystery of our lives. It must be the fourth message of this kind in my surroundings in less than two weeks.

    Yes, it takes courage. I don’t know about Manuel, but I know in my case I have been a coward when it comes to those 15 minutes. I’m not ashamed to admit it, and I know exactly why: because last time I looked, everything lost it’s meaning. Whether I live or die, whether I become good or bad, whether the ones i love live or die, or they become good or bad… does it really matter? And that was the moment hate dissapeared but took love with it, food tasted all the same and life became pleasantville.

    Courage… hmmm, I realized my pleasantville a few weeks ago. And even if it is not what i dreamed of, I will still work as much as is needed to fill in some sort of purpose, anyone’s purpose… you know, any meaning seems better than no meaning.

    It’s not that I’m afraid of what it takes my re-find my own, or fulfill my own… but I don’t want to face those moments in which everything lost its meaning again. can you blame me? dare you judge me?

    Manuel… god is with us… and apparently won’t give up in asking annoying questions.

  12. Diego Lima says:

    Unfortunately it happens with a bunch of people everyday. Most of my friends and family are like Manoel. On the other hand I am so happy that i am not like on of them.

    I’ve tried to change the world and i failed that. My comunity and i failed that. My family and friends and i failed that. Now it lasted only myself, and this one i am sure that i will never let it steady.


  13. Lily says:

    Manuel must be feeling very lonely, isolated. Speaking of dreams, in my waking hours this morning, I had a dream, well it was a vision rather than a dream because I was close to waking. I saw the ocean and two elephants, a papa elephant and a baby elephant, I saw the baby elephant was playing in the water with his trunk, he was so cute. And that’s all I saw. I wonder what that dream means, I should look it up.
    Anthony and everyone else, there is a lot of truth in what everyone is saying, as I have been trying to break away from the same things. I started then stopped, and now back again. For me it was always putting other people first before myself. It was always trying to keep everyone happy, and since I did that from a young age, it stuck with me and became a pattern of reaction. Even reading this page, this story, I don’t like it, because it’s like putting poor manuel whom I relate with, down. It must hurt! but he just has to try!

  14. anthony says:

    Jassai, I don’t mind you replying to my post at all – on the contrary, thank you for your kind words, of encouragement, and I will act on what you say – many thanks and God Bless

  15. Mirela Baron says:

    I can say only:Be conform and coherent with THE HEART and not with THE thaughts(EGO), is the only GIFT that will sure Lead MANUEL to a HEALTHY and JOYFUL , SUCCESSFUL LIFE for him ,FAMILY and UNIVERS!

    and I say that …because I have already prouve it for years for MYSELF!
    TWO AWFUL YEARS!of pain, fisical illness(anxiety,breath atack, etc), with no concret motiv found in the normal medicine!

    GOD never forgett the prayers!Just that maybe, THE PRAYERS WERE NOT VERY CONCRET FORMULATED!

    I am VERY THANKFUL to came to this …as a woman in the middle of my LIFE.Like that, if GOD WANT ,I will have a lot of time to still, enjoy THIS SMALL enlightment!

    Still humble and modest,

    Mirela(the woman in elevator)

  16. Monika says:

    Only fifteen minutes per day to look at myself is not enough for me. I never had the fear to do so – in the contrary I need it to be in tune with my life.

  17. Monika says:

    Manuel is not really a family man – even if he himself is surely convinced he were one. Later in his life his children will accuse him he never had a real interest in what they were thinking and doing, because he was always occupied with his work. Manuel will be very disappointed and will say his children are thankless. But what children later remember is the time their parents gave them, the things they have done together and the comfort and support they got from them.

  18. candie b says:

    Boy that Angel has a way to say things:”you’re trying to fool me?”LOL

    Of course that’s humour,I believe in angels and i think that “Manuel” is a great man who needs to take it easy though,or his heart is going to stop.Oh he reminds me of my male character!I just seen the connection.I guess him too he will take it easy.I think i have to change the name and the place he comes from if I want to go with what I want to go.Whatever,nothing to do with the subject,lol.

    Enjoy your day everybody!:)

  19. Sherry says:

    I think if he took the 15 minutes he might find out that he cannot live the life he has created. Perhaps it is best for him not to know because he might not be able to do anything about it. To undo all of that takes a lot of courage and going against the 3-D reality. For his sake, I hope he does make that huge leap!


  20. Heart says:

    To stop and do nothing can be scary as we have to listen and feel the pains. Some people who are insecure, needs everything in their surroundings very well organized. Every little thing has to sit exactly on the right spot for the person to keep the feeling of not loosing control. We should learn from the Brazilians who loves to be messy and playful. Latin Americans are never on time, they enjoy life!

  21. THELMA says:

    Work is a blessing when it helps us to think about what we are doing. But is becomes a curse when its only use is to prevent us from thinking about what our life means.”

    Oh I love all the Manuels of this Planet.. The family men.
    I remember my father looking into our eyes to ‘read’ our desires, our worries .. To offer us whatever we wanted before he was asked! His desires did not existed any more or they were filtered with the words ‘Duty, family, Love’. I owe him my life, my love for …classical music, my desire for knowledge and the example for … unconditional love.
    After 30 years since he died, he is always in my thoughts and in my soul.

  22. Irina Black says:

    Just Activity can not be called Life.

  23. Mari Ann says:

    Poor Manuel. Tomorrow I will relax on a comfortable bus – a very long ride, about 6-7 hours. I will think, relax and look forward to a seminar this weekend. And of course, do some studying on the bus. I cannot just – sit there…. (Well, yes – I could and should! But I cannot. Commitment.)
    In some ways I feel like Manuel. But I do not feel the loneliness. Some days I think I’m not normal, because I feel very content in my own company. There is one person missing, but otherwise there are so many people that I can connect to once I have the time.

  24. Jassai says:

    Anthony, sorry that you are feeling what you describe in your post. If I may just say something to you…in this universe, we make real what we pay attention to, if loneliness is what you give attention to then it will become real, I think that it is ok to come here to find whatever it is you need to find, you’re ‘acting’ and trying to find something that can help you. The courage to feel differently (happy, accomplished, loved, etc.) is already within us, God put it there from the moment we were born, we only have to choose to feel it and act on it. I know it’s not easy to choose courage but it isn’t hard either, it all starts with a thought, creation starts with a thought, so choose in your mind the thought of being courageous, say it to yourself and then in your own way, act on it, you’re not alone, we are all connected, God ‘is’ already within you, you are never alone, it is our thoughts which make us think we are, and it is in our power to choose to change our thoughts and therefore our lives. I wish you many blessings, hope you don’t mind me replying to your post, after reading it, I somehow felt I had to reply and well, I did :) Again, blessings to you always.

  25. Marie-Christine says:

    Muy bien Pilar”
    sonar con Los Angeles si?

  26. Cat says:

    i think in order to be really dutiful and committed… it is not just about ticking all the right boxes and being the best [for who is keeping count really except the employer/boss]… it is about being prepared to take on loss. ie: accepting life in its complexity and mystery.
    After refusing to face pain early on, then realising how much it held me back for long term happiness, i did turn to face the pain… and yes, it has taken a while.. but accepting this pain is in itself the wisdom of healing… and oddly it does allow for movement through to living once more. but “time does not wait for man” it is true and so it is better to accept early on… but perhaps we all face pain when ready. maybe realising that the rainbow is where one is… not in some distant green pasture?!
    stopping for 15 mins is a meditation recommendable for every day.. not once in a while ;o) that is responsibility.. and a committed life also.

  27. Alexandra says:

    Well, if we believe in Angels, Manuel made a big mistake not listening to the messenger of God.
    If we are atheists, we think somehow Manuels inner self tried to warn him that something must be changed, for his own good.

  28. Alexandra says:

    I can take it even that way: the company that give too much work to the workers are washing people brains, for they will have no more time for thinking, for comparing, because they live in a close circle.Why I remember”Animal Farm”?
    Sure, we can fight back, but is not easy. But I agree, we can take time to face the world, by having a short break for meditation. Manuel is also a victim of old patterns, for sure he was told that only through hard work he keep a place in society. A puritan view.

  29. Marie says:

    Ah Ah Pilar muy bien!
    Los Angeles!

  30. Pilar says:

    Parece que es comun soñar con angeles…

  31. anthony says:

    Manuel is busy because he doesn’t want to face his deep lonliness within, therefore it is better to be busy, distracted, occupied with work, an famlie duties, it prevents the deep questons and lonliness from arising…..I say that as i identify with it so much…just this morning as I dropped my littel boy off at school….I wandered back to the car and after saying a couple of ‘good mornigs’ to other parents I was overwhelemed bu a huge senese of loliness…..I have the day off from work, and time on my hands and the lonliness moves me to tears..!! I am married (not happliy!) I have a lovely son, and I have a good job…..but my feeling of incompleteness is overwheleming… its better now to look for more distractions and avoid the hard painful questions, and bury my head in the sand!!!
    But the lonliness is there and completion is what I long for (I tasted it once)………. and now the seperation anxiety is all consuming and lonliness is deep.!!So…..even coming on here, other than get inspirtaion, makes me aviod the difficult questions….!!!!
    I need that courage that comes from God, the courage that manuel thought he had, but in reality he lacks…..I too lack courage and I pray that I may find it within, and live…..God Bless