Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Writing stories with our lives: "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller

9.5/10 on my rating scale!
Take that to mean whatever you want
One of my favorite books is A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller. The book is not disgustingly long (I'm talking about you Atlas Shrugged), nor is it short enough to be considered light reading. My favorite kinds of books, such as the works of the Beat Poets, tell stories without the facade of Perfectionism. People are real! Rawness explodes out of every angst-filled exposition! The guy doesn't get the girl, and emotion is laid bare for the reader to cling to in sympathy. Somehow we relate to these people who live the common experience and aren't afraid to admit it. Don Miller is also such a writer, in that he is unafraid to admit that he is a broken person. This factor alone helps me to truly appreciate his writing.

The main issue covered in A Million Miles is story. The introductory premise of remembering life is somewhat frightening in its relevance to everyday life. How much life do we remember? Not even 50% of 50%! When we die and we are sitting on that Andy Griffith-esque stoop with God, what will we have to talk about?

Life is like a movie. When we watch a movie about the utterly mundane, it is a terrible flick. Is that not, however, what most lives have become? Here's a great movie pitch for you...

"A man wants a really nice house, so he takes out a mortgage and buys a really nice house."

Is that not an awful movie premise? And yet that is the story that so many of us live! The want to live in a comfortable bubble in suburbia is now the "American Dream!" Don Miller invites us instead to live better stories. "A story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it" is the driving line behind the entire book, and an invitation is given throughout to become a character that truly wants something from life. This invitation grabs us by our collars and asks the question "Why are you here?"

What do you want? I know I would personally love to live a better story. To have something worth remembering in old age, that is something that no amount of money can replace. When we bury a man, we either bury a man, or we bury a "good man." How do we remember these differently? I think it is in the story that a person lives. Your life is a blank page! Now go and write a profound and beautiful story through all you do!

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