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A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story Paperback – March 7, 2011
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About the Author
Donald Miller has helped more than 3,000 businesses clarify their marketing messages so their companies grow. He's the CEO of StoryBrand, the cohost of the Building a StoryBrand Podcast, and the author of several books, including the bestsellers Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Betsy, and their dogs, Lucy and June Carter.
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Donald Miller decides to edit his life (as you would edit your character's life in a book) and the life he used to lead was just a normal life, a life, I am sure most of us can relate to.
He starts with an instant hook:
"IF YOU WATCHED a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn't cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers. You wouldn't tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you'd seen. The truth is, you wouldn't remember that movie a week later, except you'd feel robbed and want your money back. Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo. But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to feel meaningful. 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."
Who wouldn't want to read further? Isn't this, unfortunatelly, what most people strive towards, obtaining something...material? (whether they admit to it or not)
"In a pure story, there is a purpose in every scene, in every line of dialogue. A movie is going somewhere." - and this gets Donald thinking...where is his life going, where is he, as a character in it, really going?
"A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it is the basic structure of a good story." - true...yet, Donald muses, we go through our life trying to avoid conflict, tryng to have it too easy and our lives become meaningless, i.e. we do not live good stories.
"But I also wondered if he wasn't right, that we were designed to live through something rather than to attain something, and the thing we were meant to live through was designed to change us. The point of a story is the character arc, the change."
"But I've noticed something. I've never walked out of a meaningless movie thinking all movies are meaningless. I only thought the movie I walked out on was meaningless. I wonder, then, if when people say life is meaningless, what they really mean is their lives are meaningless. I wonder if they've chosen to believe their whole existence is unremarkable, and are projecting their dreary life on the rest of us."
This book is full of amazing wisdoms like this and it is entertaining, biographical as well as very philosophical.
It easily made my "favorites" shelf.
But it didn't work for me here. I never felt like there was much of a thesis or point. Other than the one that you get right away and from reading the cover "we should be living a better story"...There you go folks. No need to read any further.
I digress. I does has some nuggets to come away with. And the idea of taking the elements of story, and what makes a good story, and then observing how that is potentially what makes a good life is interesting. And the idea of God being an author trying to write our story for us and making it grand if we but only let Him do so. But I felt like I got that idea after the first few chapters. Then just drudged along for the rest of the book.
My one other hang up was how he confessed early on that making the movie of Blue Like Jazz was about telling a story. And not the truth. That movies and life are different. And learning how to construct a good story involved making things up. And that is how the book felt. Like he was just making things up to also make it a better story.
Worth reading? Ehh...coin toss.