what’s your story?

this is fact not fiction…
for the first time in years.
               -death cab for cutie

i’ve been reading Donald Miller’s newest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  it’s about Miller’s process and struggle with adapting a previous book into a screenplay.  he explores what it looks like to tell a story, and begins to understand what it means to live out a good story.

one of my favorite stories so far is about how his friend, the father of a 13-year-old girl, handles the fact that his daughter is dating a guy and smoking pot.  realizing that they have created a life for their daughter where she desires to choose another role for herself, a role of danger and risk and rebellion, he decides to write another story for their family.  in doing so, he gives his daughter another opportunity, a role where she feels challenged, adventurous, where she can help others.  by choosing to live another story, he invites his family to a greater picture, not limited by the “American dream” or the pursuit of a larger income or more things.

one of the best gifts of this time in my life has been the ability to step back and look at this life from a different perspective.  details are important and have their place, but just like looking at a piece of art, it’s impossible to see how the colors and brush-strokes weave together without stepping back and seeing the picture in it’s entirety.

what i’ve observed has been quite disheartening…we are surrounded by a culture disillusioned by this dream, this desire to have more and better.  this idea that convenience is god has the people enslaved.  i see people on my morning runs going into office buildings.  they are unhealthy looking and unhappy, drinking 32-oz sodas at 7 am.  overweight or abnormally skinny.  they walk a defeated path. 

we are a people hungry, ravenous, for the opportunity to live a good story. 

i had dinner with a dear friend the other night who is struggling with heavy heartbreak as her father recently found out he has a brain tumor.  as she cried and wrestled, i couldn’t help but notice the beauty and the grace in her tears.  i could only sit.  could only be with her.  no words came to me, except to comment that she was living a terrific story.  and no good story comes without conflict and/or heartbreak of some kind.

i had lunch with another friend yesterday, and was impressed to hear her enthusiasm for compiling a craft book she wants to write.  her and her husband are also preparing to begin the adoption process in January.  in my mind, i saw a future of amazing babies being raised by my friends and how blessed i felt to be a part of this journey.  i thought of the funny stories i would get to share with these little ones about their parents. 

that’s when it hit me that i am surrounded by people who are allowing their lives to tell beautiful stories.  they are not allowing the temptations of this world to ensnare them; but are instead choosing to risk, to endure heartbreak, to walk a different path in order to live a rich and full life.

all this processing seems to be taking place at just the right time, as i consider how i want my own story to read, and also as i roll into National Novel Writing Month (November).  i will again be attempting to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, a feat i have accomplished just twice.  looking around me, i think i have plenty of material and inspiration to draw from.

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