Donald Miller, the bestselling author of BLUE LIKE JAZZ, has been on a bit of a writing hiatus. Shortly after the release of TO OWN A DRAGON, he stepped back from writing to pursue speaking and various interests, which has led to some rich material for his newest book.
A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS follows Miller’s story after two film producers approach him about making a movie based on his bestselling book. The entire process of creating a script forces Miller to take a hard look at the script of his own life and make some hard choices and significant changes. Along the way, he explores the role of story --- not just in creating a script, but in living a life. He recognizes that the same principles that apply to giving story meaning, texture and power also apply to the way we choose to live. Just as a story can turn out flat, boring and a waste of time, so, too, can our lives if left unchecked.
The truth of the power of story is illustrated throughout the book. Miller decides to make some changes, take risks and try new things. Some of the shifts are subtle but significant; others are adventurous. He chooses to fly to Peru to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, pursues romance with a beautiful gal, kayaks all night after an unforgettable evening with a family in British Columbia, and bikes across the country for a pubic cause as well as a private one. Throughout these and other adventures, he demonstrates that it’s never too late to change the story of your life.
Miller writes, “The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined. The point of a story is never about the ending, remember. It’s about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle. At some point the shore behind you stops getting smaller, and you paddle and wonder why the same strokes that used to move you now only rock the boat.”
Everyone will be tempted to bail on living a great story. Some will settle for lesser stories; others will choose to simply live bad stories. Yet the opportunity for living an epic is available to us all. While Miller rarely directly alludes to God in his book, the truths he shares are compelling and invite spiritual reflection in a subtle yet powerful way for engaging readers. Though A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS was a long time in the making, most readers will find it well worth the wait. After all, it takes time to live a great story.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on November 13, 2011