Donald Miller has done it again. He has written a book which has gripped my heart in a way that makes me wonder how he possibly could have known the journey I have been taking in the past several weeks. Of course, he obviously couldn’t have known. Having only met him once briefly at a Mentoring Project event in downtown Portland last year, I am confident he would not remember me, much less know anything about me. But his book suggests otherwise. Why is that?
This is the universal appeal which “A Million Miles in a Thousand years” offers to the reading public. The book speaks to the universal longing for meaning in each life.
After the success of his memoir, “Blue Like Jazz,” two producers approached Mr. Miller with the idea of turning the book into a movie. He agreed to meet with them and eventually agreed to do the project. During the process of transforming his memoir, his life, into a movie script, Miller quickly learned about the editing process. An interesting protagonist must have a significant goal and experience great difficulty through narrative conflict in order to make the story interesting. This and other necessary plot points turned the script into a story about a character which is nothing like Miller’s real life, a point he admits is embarrassing since the character is far more interesting. Yet it also motivated him to explore editing his personal life using the model of movie script writing. “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” is his story of how this came about, and what he learned through the process. He suggests it is possible for people to edit their own lives to create hope, meaning and significance. I think he is on to something important.
Too many people let life happen to them as if they were last minute bit players in a community theater with no hope of an interested audience. So, they go through the motions, feeling like victims to cruel fate, rather than full participants in a narrative full of joy and significance. I anticipate some folks will raise concerns that the book’s theme of editing a life contradicts the concept of God’s sovereignty. This is an unfortunate excuse to toss aside personal responsibility and stewardship for the life God has given each of us. Although there surely is a bit of paradox at work here, I do not perceive a necessary contradiction.
“A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” is extraordinarily readable and likable. With stories which are embarrassing, hilarious, grief-stricken, and sobering, Mr. Miller probes his own story with transparent humility, showing us the way toward serious life reflection and editing for our own preferred futures. We already know he can write, and this book once again proves it. Now he is showing us he can live meaningfully, suggesting ways for us to join him in discovering the adventures God has for us.
**REVIEWER’S NOTE: This is a notice that I personally purchased my copy of “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,” a practice I maintain with any product or service I review on this blog.