Book Review - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller
I recently was sent a copy of the book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller. To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect as it was described as having something to do with having "better stories" in your life. That can obviously mean a lot of different things. But Miller is a local author, and I was willing to give it a shot. I ended up with a book that far exceeded my expectations, and had me thinking about my own life on a pretty deep level.
A Million Miles revolves around a memoir he wrote a few years back, and two guys who decide to make a film based on the book. "Loosely based" is more like it, as Miller quickly finds out that the life he lived and described didn't quite translate into the movie that was being envisioned. It didn't have the necessary elements of "story" that causes a film to be interesting. So even though it was "his life" that was being turned into a film, the story being told would be completely different than what happened. Essentially, he was being told to "edit" his life story so as to make it more compelling to the viewer. And it was that editing that got him to wondering... what if everyone had a chance to change their life story... to "edit" it for film and make the stories more interesting and compelling? And while that's not available to the vast majority, it *is* possible to change our current life to have more interesting stories the first time around. And that's the point that Donald Miller explores in A Million Miles.
Split up into five parts (Exposition, A Character, A Character Who Wants Something, A Character Who Wants Something And Overcomes Conflict, and A Character Who Wants Something And Overcomes Conflict To Get It), he guides the reader through the process of viewing their life through the prism of a storyteller or a filmmaker. If you break down the elements of a great movie, you have these particular elements. Since it *is* possible to view our life as a movie-in-progress, there's no reason why we shouldn't be incorporating these elements into our own story that we have to tell. For instance, if I want to lose 100 pounds, I could sit around and complain about how hard it is (which I've done). Or, I can see it as a story, view myself as a character who wants something and has to overcome conflict, and proceed as if I'm writing the screenplay of my own epic. Same thing if I wanted to fulfill a goal such as writing a book... why not incorporate the elements of "story" and make it happen? It's only myself that's keeping the process from happening.
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is deeply personal as it's told in a series of stories from Miller's life... some funny, some painful, but all real. And while it's possible to just read the book and be entertained, it's very likely that after reading his book, you'll never quite view your own life and actions the same way again. I know I've already started to incorporate some of these concepts into my own "story", in hopes that it will be infinitely more interesting than it currently is... :)