A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

September 29, 2009

books / spirituality

Recently, I jumped at the chance to read and review Don Miller’s newest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, through Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger program. As the book comes out today, many of us are launching reviews.

What the book says

During the stories that this book tells, Don Miller is in the process of writing the screenplay for the Blue Like Jazz Movie, and it is fascinating to see how he learns about the power of story as he creates the story for the movie, and in the process his own life and story are completely revolutionized.

He spends time talking about what makes a good story, and how characters in the stories we love are shaped by their stories – by pain, conflict, tension – and how we are shaped by these things as well. As he does this, he shares his own stories from the last few years, telling us about the bad story he was living – even while making a living as a creative person who told good stories – and how he learned to live in a better story. Things like the Ride:Well Tour, The Mentoring Project, and a movie that sounds fantastic come out of this time in his life. He refers to all this as, “an epic story of my own.”

What the book says to me

First off, I want to highly recommend this book. I loved it, though at times I hated it. I have been shaken by it, and the things that it has shown me about my own story. In a lot of ways, I’m living a bad story, and in some ways I’m living a stupid story.

I want an epic story like he has found. I can see elements of it in my life, but there is a frustrating extent to which I feel like I can’t get there. Don says, at one point:

I think this is when most people give up on their stories. They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people buy office supplies. But 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.

This is right where I am. He also reminds us, “the story of the forest is better than the story of the tree.” The epics we want to live are bigger than we are. Frodo and Sam in Lord of the Rings realize that they are part of a bigger story, and they are at peace because of it. Our peace comes, then, from finding out what it means to be a tree in the story of the forest.

It’s been a while since I read anything from Don Miller, aside from his blog and his Twitter (both of which are wonderful), but this one is very possibly my favorite. It is profound. In this brief aside on his current happenings, know that he is on a book tour in support of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Go see it, if you can.

So in essence, this life and story is a deep presentation, alongside a deep written example, of the power of story, and is the best combination of the two that I’ve ever experienced. It reaches into the areas that Tolkien and L’Engle wrote about, and brings them out in a fresh way, incarnated in a life that is living them at the same time that he is learning them.