Friday, February 11, 2011

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years By Donald Miller

I was really excited to read this because my sister loved it so much.  She has been giving me good book recommendations my whole life!  And I really enjoyed reading it.  I'm still thinking about things he wrote.

Donald Miller wrote a book that was successful, and some guys wanted to make it into a movie.  As they start writing, they need to create a more interesting protagonist.  And so Don begins to evaluate his life as a story.  "The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won't make a story meaningful, it won't make a life meaningful either."  When I did some research about this book, the two things mentioned are his progress in making a movie about the first book, and his bike ride across the US to raise money for clean water in Africa.  And I think those are the book ends to this story, but what was most valuable to me, was his self-evaluations and efforts to positively change what he was doing in his life.  I know I've mentioned this before, but I always wonder if we really, really can permanently change our lives.  I know in theory it's true, but to actually overcome bad habits, stay motivated, and be successful seems almost impossible sometimes.

As Don begins to find positive ways to spend his time and invest his energy, he comes in contact with and makes friends with tons of interesting people.  Bob, one of them, is absolutely amazing, you will enjoy reading his story.  Another friend, an artist, says, "He wondered out loud if the point wasn't the search but the transformation the search creates."  Don writes about how we often need a catalyst to change, something that forces us out of our routine.  "Humans are designed to seek comfort and order, so if they have comfort and order, they tend to plant themselves, even if their comfort isn't all that comfortable.  And even if they secretly want for something better."  And also, "People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen." Oh, I am so often one of those people!  And reading this really did make me want to make my life a better story!  I can totally relate to that plateau you reach and sometimes stop at in your efforts to improve. "They get into the middle and discover it was harder than they thought.  They can't see the distant shore anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward...."

It doesn't take long in the book for Don to begin talking about God.  At first he mentions imagining talking to God after he dies, and being held accountable for what he did with his life. (This fits in great with my beliefs.)  And he realizes that "God will probably sit there looking at me, wondering what to talk about next."  While it becomes obvious that Don is religious, I believe that he wanted those who might not share his beliefs to also benefit from this book.  So the meaning is there, but I wouldn't call this entirely a religious book.

"If I have a hope, it's that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story, and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you."  Yes, I think so.

There is a chapter that I REALLY liked called, "The Reason God Hasn't Fixed You Yet."  And I've been trying to quote from it or paraphrase, and I'm afraid if I do it will be misunderstood.  Just believe me, it's good. Oh, and the story, "How Jason Saved His Family" made me cry, seriously.

Don Miller has a sense of humor, and the parts in this book that made me laugh aren't forced.  Like he talks about reading an article about advertising and how it causes us to think in "wish-fulfillment dynamics." On the other side of the page was an ad for a specialized remote control.  Then he says, "I had trouble finishing the article about the effects of advertising because I kept pressing my finger against the picture of the remote, imagining my television turning on and off."  Also he doesn't over explain, he just assumes his readers are intelligent and can draw the conclusions he's making throughout his book.

Here's another great point, "When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are."

And another, "A good storyteller doesn't just tell a better story, though.  He invites other people into the story with him, giving them a better story too."

He talks about the need for opposition and sacrifice.  He comes to the conclusion that, "It wasn't necessary to win for the story to be great, it was only necessary to sacrifice everything."  This made me think about Young Women lessons that I've given about sacrifice.  Which have in turn made me ask myself, "what do I sacrifice?"  And the truth is that often it's not very much.  I am usually willing to do great acts of charity or service when it fits neatly into my life.  I know that it is more meaningful when it requires me to miss out on something, or inconvenience myself to help someone else.

"It made me think about the hard lives so many people have had, the sacrifices they've endured, and how those people will see heaven differently from those who have had easier lives."

I could seriously quote this book all day long.  I'll end with this one:
"I  knew a story was calling me...and once you know what it takes to live a better story, you don't have a choice.  Not living a better story would be like deciding to die, deciding to walk around numb until you die."

I recommend it.  I thought it was great start to finish.  I took lots of notes (obviously).

PS. THIS IS MY 100TH REVIEW!  Look for a commemoration next week!

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Oh, now I have to go and re-read it! And then, we need to carve out a couple of hours and just TALK about it. And THEN, i need to get moving on my story. :)