Monday, September 10, 2012
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Author: Donald Miller
Donald Miller made a splash in the world of Christian non-fiction with his bestseller Blue Like Jazz. I never read it. But I know it was a big hit among folks in my age group at the time.
For a long time, I only remembered the title of Miller's book. I couldn't have told you who wrote it or even a little bit of what it's about.
Then I was in a bookstore with Mark, who was looking for something inspirational and encouraging for where he was in his life at the time. Blue Like Jazz came to mind for him. The book had recently been made into a movie, so the title had slipped back into our consciousness. Not that either of us had seen the movie. We just remembered its existence.
Mark asked me to text Andy. Since he works in ministry, it's generally assumed that he has his finger on the pulse of Christian popular culture. Andy suggested A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, believing it may speak to Mark a little more than Blue Like Jazz at this time in his life.
So Mark made his purchase and we exited the Barnes & Noble. As Mark drove away from the store, I pulled his new book out of the bag and began reading the introduction. I was intrigued. When we went our separate ways, I asked if I could borrow the book once he finished it.
Like I said, I never read Blue Like Jazz. But I could tell I would like Miller's style from the first few pages of this book.
It seems to me that this is an unofficial follow up to Blue Like Jazz. On the surface, it's the story of making that book into a movie. Scratch the surface, and it's really about Miller's attempt at living a better story.
As a person who finds joy and therapy in writing, Miller's journey struck a chord with me. I know what it's like to take a character and thrust them into situations that will cause some kind of change within them. Why should our own lives be so different?
What kind of stories are we living? Miller points out the reality that most of our stories will be boring. Not that there aren't exciting moments that come along. But the majority of the time is kind of dull.
But what stops us from living a more exciting story? What keeps us from living a story with purpose? With direction? Fear keeps us from challenging ourselves so much of the time. We become content with complacency and it holds us back.
That's where I was a year ago. I was in a job I hated, but because I had become comfortable, I was okay with it. As long as I got that paycheck every two weeks.
I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted a better story. I stepped away from what I knew, what was comfortable. I found myself in a challenging job that I really had no business doing. After a few months, I believed it had been a mistake, making the move I made. Turns out, it was what Miller calls an inciting incident.
This challenging career move and my utter failure in it incited me to find something better for myself. And I've moved forward, changing in ways I wouldn't have thought possible a year ago.
For the first time in my life, I'm certain of what I want to do. I'm certain of what kind of story I want to live.
I want to live an inspirational story. I want my story to encourage and interact with other people's stories. I want to live an adventure story. I don't want to explore the Temple of Doom, but I no longer want to be content with watching others' adventures come to life on the screen. I also want to live a love story, believe it or not. I want to be able to eventually share my story with someone who wants to share her story with me.
God's the writer here. I'm one of his characters. And I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to him writing some more inciting incidents into my story. Not necessarily because I want to be challenged, but because I know my character will grow and change as a result of those challenges.