About 2 years ago, I got an email from a Pastor in the blogosphere with one simple question on it. It said “What’s your story”. That was it. Three simple words. I had no idea how to respond to that email. There were literally about a thousand directions I could got with the answer. I have since emailed, talked on the phone and even had the pleasure of meeting that Pastor in person once. Even though we don’t know each other well, I count him as a friend. One of the first things I said to him when we met in person was “remember that email you sent me and what you asked me?” Something about that question really struck a chord.
All of that brings me to the new book by another one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller. The new book is called “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” and it is one of the best books I have read this year. I literally COULD NOT put this book down. Something in it struck me and I felt as if I could have written pages of the book myself. Many of you know Donald Miller from his book “Blue Like Jazz” which seems to be at the top of many peoples “favorite books” list (including me). As much as I liked Blue Like Jazz, I actually liked “Searching for God Knows What” and “To Own a Dragon” even more. Of all of his books, To Own a Dragon left the biggest impact on me personally….until I read A Million Miles.
If you have read Donald Miller, you know that his writing is different than most authors. It’s more like sitting in a room with a guy as he just talks. You are pulled into the thoughts and ramblings of a guy that is just trying to piece this whole thing together. His books are at times, hilarious, and other times brutally honest. Maybe that is why I enjoy them so much. I think I would be fast friends wtih Donald Miller. He writes in a way that makes you think you would too.
The book picks up at the beginning with how they are going to make a movie from the book “Blue Like Jazz”. You can find out more about that project (HERE). What Donald quickly finds out is that there is more to a movie than just taking a book and putting it on film. He learns that the audience needs a story and quite frankly, his life is missing one. Most of the book is his writing of HIS story as he begins to really LIVE and not just exist anymore. This is where I found our story to be so similar. While I have never ridden a bike across the country (which Donald did for charity while writing this book), I can totally align with his thoughts from my running experiences this past year. Here is just one quote that I underlined:
After a while the story about training for Peru was going well. It was suspenseful, because I’d go work out with Dave, and every time I worked out, I’d feel out of shape, and that made me wonder if I had what it took to finish the hike. Suddenly my life wasn’t boring or meaningless. There was something I had to do in order to keep a bad thing from happening.
It’s true that while ambition creates fear, it also creates the story. But is a good trade, because as soon as you point toward a horizon, life no longer feels meaningless. And suddenly there is risk in your story and a question about whether you’ll make it.
A year ago I ran around the block with a friend (ironically also named Dave) and next thing I know we were signed up for a 4 mile race on Thanksgiving Day. I absolutely understand what Donald means in the quote above. I suddenly had risk in that I didn’t want to fail or quit that 4 mile run. I wanted to finish. That was me “pointing toward a horizon”. I suddenly had meaning and a place to distract me from myself. A year later and I have run a 4 miler, several 5K’s, a 10K, two half marathon’s and a full marathon. Its not about the races though. It is about what each of those have taught me about myself, my story and my meaning in life. The meaning is not running, but it is the vehicle by which I have been able to sort it all out. That is why this book, for me, became very personal and so treasured.
I HIGHLY recommend the book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”. If you are a Donald Miller fan, you will love this book. If you have never read Donald Miller, you will be a fan by the time you have finished it. Ask yourself the question that my friend Paul asked me 2 years ago right now….”What is Your Story?. If you don’t have an answer, there is NO better time to read “A Million Miles” and start writing your own story today!
I give “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” a 5 out of 5!