Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A million miles in a thousand years

So Donald Miller wrote a new book, and it is a NYT bestseller. So who is Donald Miller? He’s an author and a speaker, a cyclist, and a hiker to the top of Machu Pichu (more details about all of that in his book). Donald Miler wrote a book called “Blue Like Jazz” a few years back, and it’s a pretty fun read. If you haven’t heard of it, I recommend giving it a read. The subtitle is “irreligious thoughts on Christian spirituality.” It’s both engaging and funny—as are all of his books.

And this new book, well it is excellent on many levels. As a personal narrative about Miller’s life, it’s fun and endearing, but it is much more than a personal narrative. It’s a book about story, and what makes a good story. What makes a good story is this, “A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.”

Sounds pretty simple and straightforward right? We can think about that statement, and it makes sense. A good movie is about a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. The problem is that not every movie is a blockbuster. And not every conflict draws us in. Not every character is endearing.

The same could be said for a life. What makes an interesting life? Just like in the movies, it’s the same thing. An endearing character isn’t necessarily perfect, but is liing for a goal bigger than himself/herself. The conflict needs to involve serious risk. And the goal doesn’t have to be attained to have a good story—it just needs to be worth pursuing.

As miller writes the book he leaves his readers in the same predicament that he has discovered for himself. His story that his life was telling just wasn’t really compelling. He wasn’t taking risks for much of anything, and was avoiding conflict at all costs. I think many of us live here. Or if we do take risks, it’s just not for something compelling. Nobody wants to watch a movie to see if the protagonist is able to buy the Volvo or the bigger house. And yet, many of us live stories similar to this as the primary narrative of our life.

But before we wallow in despair, maybe we should consider changing the defining narrative of our life. What if we risked something for other people, or for a cause that was bigger than ourselves, or maybe we laid it all on the line for the sake of helping our neighbors.

I have to admit this is a poor synopsis of the book, so you might want to laugh a bit more by reading the actual book.

And in the meantime, think about the story that you are living out, and how it interacts with other people’s stories. Maybe today is a great day to begin to write a new narrative, to live differently, and to take some healthy risks for the sake of bringing more beauty into this world.

No comments: