4 out of 4 stars
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Human life is full of excruciating anguish mixed with ecstasy. On the road, patience and endurance are ruthlessly tested. During life’s journey, each man has a choice to follow the trail and enjoy the moment as foibles attract acrimonious regrets. The road is thrilling, trying, and changing like the scenic Icelandic glaciers. Overall, "he is the happiest who lives in harmony with God and nature and makes the best use of the moment."
Man Mission narrates the midlife crises, experiences, and choices of a young man vis-a-vis his friends: Sam, Daniel, and Alec, who altogether find pleasure gallivanting around the world for painful exercises. The book shows the challenges of growing up, taking control of destiny, and realizing fulfilment in life. The main protagonist often grapples with understanding the changes in his life, and without profound reflection, relies on others to make important decisions for him. Compelled by prevalent circumstances during his annual vacations, he reflects on his life. He has “expertly constructed a façade of a beautiful home, perfect children, and a family filled with material comforts, adventures, and privileges,” out of self-inflicted doubts and deceptions. Baseless worries and desperate stupidity lead to blunders, misadventures, and sadness.
Hysterical and nervous to stand by the truth, he loses the battle with his inner self and his marriage to Rachel. Accordingly, he finds it difficult to discover purpose, meaning, and direction. He does not appreciate the fact that man proves his worth by demonstrating confidence, determination, and faith, and abiding by the truth at all cost. By these, he conquers fears, obeys God’s word, and achieves life’s purpose. To be directed by natural ego and raw masculine appetite alone is the thorough recipe for failure. Biking, hiking, kayaking, trekking, and climbing physical mountains only offer temporary respite to life challenges. Dashing off with friends yearly to weird places to prove manliness in outdoor activities resonates like a futile escape from reality. Robert Jordan, in the Great Hunt, enunciates a rule for every real man, as quoted in Man Mission: “Whatever comes, face it on your feet.” Do not run away, “…keep moving forward; to make the journey, even when hard and painful.”
To triumph and flourish, real men face and tackle their challenges. They do not abandon problems to sort themselves out. Life’s glitches are not designed to be swept under the carpet. Real men willingly drink from the chalice to fulfil a purpose and accomplish results. Drinking from the chalice does not entail consuming poison. Poison is only a shortcut to resolving problems by creating more. Truly, Alec validates his manliness as he confronts his challenges squarely. He remembers that a man whose house is on fire does not chase rabbits. Deep in mess, Alec overrules escapist suggestions by unequivocally affirming: “Madam Universe has decided to sh*t all over me, and I need to stay put to clean up the mess.” As a result, Alec “smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection,” as quoted from Thomas Paine in this book (paraphrase mine). No wonder, he forges ahead and minimizes his regrets. The main protagonist needs to promptly own his faults, beg for forgiveness, and thrash his problems with Rachel one on one. Denial of wrongs, embellished with nice assumptions and regretful hesitations, surely leads to unpardonable shame.
As a result, dialogue should be ongoing in every family before the signs of distress raise their ugly heads. Dialogue can amicably unravel the roots of controversies. Since it involves the exchange of ideas in the spirit of shared understanding, dialogue connects to the fabric of human nature. It is one tool which many families must cuddle to avert and settle their hitches. It should be open, sincere, uncluttered, not confrontational, and without strings attached. In dialogue, ask, give, seek, and receive forgiveness, insight, and understanding. Silence or lack of dialogue chokes a marriage to death and leaves both parties “interlopers in their shared life.” Never padlock access to dialogue or run away from it. If you love your family, confirm your emotion and words by your actions. Decisively, dialogue, not divorce, is the ultimate tonic that cracks matrimonial disputes.
In dialogue, these four friends draft a Charter (customs, rules, and regulations) for their annual outdoor vacations. Equally, they can craft another Charter for their Matrimonial relationships, not simply relying on an imagined “Relationship Playbook by the wives’ committee.” For instance, their Mission Charter foresees that “among men, it’s always important to establish the hierarchy upfront.” The Relationship Charter can likewise anticipate that with women, it’s very important to discuss mundane issues always. Men, please do not allow communication with spouses to become perfunctory. Wives, please try to “add spice and intrigue to otherwise mundane, featureless days,” of spouses despite round-the-clock house chores. Be immaculate, alluring, and adorable always. But, married men, who in the presence of their wives, make improper observations about other younger women, seriously need to grow up. Many domestic hurricanes erupt from such unguarded utterances. Hostile communication and denial of sexual intercourse to one another have no place in marriage. Sex is not just a basic biological need for humans. In marriage, it is the main ingredient for togetherness. Remove sex from marriage, there will be no love, respect, and trust. Well, there is already a developed spiritual charter on marriage issues. It’s very important to refer to the divine Rulebook always to check solutions for applicable problems.
Disappointingly, some men still act like “caged lions which long for freedom in the jungle.” But, are men wild animals unnaturally caged by marriage and family? Marriage and family involve free choices and require navigational tools. Prayer and faith are essential to the subsistence of marriages and families. According to Mahatma Gandhi, “Prayer should be the key of our life in the morning and the lock of our life in the evening.” As the protagonist laments: “… for the first time in a very long time, I prayed.” Similarly, he concludes: “…evidently this metaphysical approach to problem-solving worked…” In actuality, no one can tackle all difficulties without help. Life’s currents can be unbearable and crushing. Navigate together, with the support of friends and family, aided by directional tools, and guided by the Light House. A reliable guide equips one to persevere. To prevail over supernatural problems, obtain supernatural solutions from the Supernatural Guide. And to pontificate, every person requires faith in God to “survive the brave New World of opportunity and isolation, endless choice and boundless freedom.”
The author, Eytan Uliel, delivers a smooth story, which you cannot put down until you get to the end. I particularly cherish the chapter summaries and ample wisdom quotations from other personalities backed with Bible references. Man Mission is a therapeutic book for marriages. Every man, every woman should read this book. It is stuffed with practical marriage lessons. I recommend it to those who are desirous of surmounting matrimonial challenges. There are rich lessons, unfolding adventures in each chapter, and the grammar is well-edited and fluent. I give it a rating of 4 out of 4.
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