Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Lives: Defining Moments
Compiled and Edited by Jim Sharon, Ed.D.
Centennial, CO, USA: Energy for LIfe, 2011, pp. 251
A collection of forty stories told by the men who lived them
I believe Jim Sharon’s intention in gathering these stories was that myself and other men could each see how we are not alone in our journeys. While every story may not resonate with you, within these forty stories a man can find someone else who had to deal with adversity, or an ordinary guy who chose to step into his greatness. In this goal I believe the book is a success.
I have to be honest about my feelings regarding this book. I found it difficult to get into and had to push my self to read it. As I read the forward, by Roy Baumeister, I was inspired and very hopeful that the book would bring forward some points and learnings. As I worked my way through the book I found it difficult to connect to the stories. Now all that I remember of this book is how I felt while reading the forward. I say all of this, not as a negative for the book, but as my honest response to the book.
I found I couldn’t read this book in less than 20 sittings as after 1 or 2 stories I needed to stop and absorb what I had read. I believe that plowing through would have been dishonoring to the men who had shared themselves and experiences and so it took me some time to go through the book. I compare this style of reading with books that have ‘captivated’ me where I can’t put the book down and found it to be a challenge. Each time I’d go to read I wanted to open a book that was easy to read, or gratifying in its content and found my self, like a kid who only had Brussels sprouts left on his plate, pushing through this book. I believe that like Brussels sprouts that this book was also good for me and will nourish me beyond mere immediate gratification.
What I like about the book:
I salute all the contributors for sharing their stories. It is not the easiest task to share ones authentic self and journey, and to have so many men dig deep and provide to the world a story of their experience is truly a great gift. I thank Jim Sharon for putting in the effort to compile this book and get it out in the world. It is my hope that this is the beginning of men sharing themselves and their stories more often in their community. It is this sharing that will allow us all to become greater and more than we currently are.
I am also enjoying the questions about myself that this book has left me with. If I don’t connect with these stories then what am I missing? These are ordinary men — the same as me. If each of these men can find the lessons, learnings, and growth from their experiences then perhaps it is time I connect with mine at a deeper level. What might my world look like if I did connect with these stories?
In this case my final thought is a feeling. It feels like this is an important work of literature and one I must revisit as I continue my journey. Perhaps as I connect further with my own masculinity I will connect further with these forty stories and begin to see ways of being previously unavailable to me.
My hope is that others who have read this book will add their thoughts to this review as perhaps hearing other perspectives about this book will enable me to further appreciate the gifts that are available to me through it.
My deepest thanks to Jim Sharon for creating this collection and to all those who contributed.