Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Million Miles

"The saddest thing about life is you don't remember half of it ... I wondered whether a person could plan a story for their life and live it intentionally."

I just finished reading the most recent book by Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. The seed for this work grew out of a garden that initially teemed with neglect. Miller had been riding the wave of popularity associated with his million-selling book Blue Like Jazz. Because of his sudden popularity and good press, he had grown smug and egotistical. Ultimately this evolved into a general laziness about and disconnection from life. Satisfied to lay in bed all day, only to roll out for food and television.

Then because of one phone call, his outlook began to change. Someone contacted him about his interest in making a movie based on Blue Like Jazz. That seed turned everything around. Over a period of about year, he worked to develop a script. Along the way he invested himself in the study of what makes a good story. He came to the conclusion that the elements of style, framing, and plot that make for a good movie are essentially the same elements that make for a good life story. The point is to purposefully move from the day-to-day boring reality of the humdrum into a meaningful narrative.

Miller takes us on his metamorphosis from couch slug to embracer of life. From a mindless television addict to someone who eventually hikes the Inca trail, opens a school in Uganda, and bicycles across the United States. From someone who randomly drifts through his existence to someone who approaches each day with his eyes open and with a sense of expectant purpose. The narrative too follows this development. Once off the couch he engaged in silly frat house antics with his newfound energy. However, slowly but surely he matured, and he became more focussed and conscious and contemplative with his pursuits. It was a slow but sure journey of development for him that gave me something that I needed as well.