I have to start off by saying that I am a huge fan of Donald Miller. HUGE. I first read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years when it was released in 2009 and it’s really been on my mind of late to read through it again.
If I remembered the book as well as I thought I did, the start of a new year seemed like a fitting time to pick it up for the second time. A Million Miles largely centers around the screenplay process for Miller’s first book, Blue Like Jazz, which was turned into a movie. While there is discussion about how to turn the story from the book into a movie that would engage audiences, the bigger premise of A Million Miles is about living a better story. It’s an inspiring tale that allows the reader to question what they really want this life to be, and taking the chances to create that journey.
The thing about trying to remember your life is is makes you wonder what any of it means. You get the feeling life means something, but you’re not sure what. Life has a peculiar feel when you look back on it that it doesn’t have when you’re actually living it.
Throughout the process of turning book into film, Miller is constantly reminded that what makes life memorable is the bigger purpose, the wanting of something more and going for it. We read of his adventures hiking in Peru and bicycling across the country, in effort to discover what it means to live that better story. Throughout these adventures, he creates not only the vivid memories that make for a good story, but he learns about himself in the process. Miller forced himself out of his comfort zone and into the scary unknown.
“You put something on the page,” he said. “Your life is a blank page. You write on it.”
He realizes that it’s about believing in something bigger than yourself, finding the story that motivates and drives each of us to live. It’s human nature to fall into a routine of what is familiar, what is routine. But, it’s when we break out of those cycles that we can discover so much about ourselves and about the world.
…so he thought about it and said he didn’t think we should be afraid to embrace whimsy. I asked him what he meant by whimsy, and he struggled to define it. He said it’s that nagging idea that life could be magical; it could be special if we were only willing to take a few risks.
While Miller’s adventures aren’t something I have the resources (or, frankly, the desire) to take on, it is an amazing reminder to constantly seek out what it means for me, in my own journey, to live a better story. It called me to step out of my comfort zone and do something that scares me. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is an easy read in that it’s a very conversational book, chapters I feel like Miller could be sharing with me over coffee, not through the printed word. Yet, it’s an incredibly challenging book in that it makes me think about my life, my purpose, and how I’m really living out my days. It’s about “intentionally creat[ing] a memorable life.”
So, get out there and live. But, read this book along the way, because I hope that it inspires you as much as it has me.
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