Happy Monday! And what a wonderful Monday it is... We celebrated our baby's baptism yesterday, my in-laws are in town from British Columbia, and the weather is gorgeous. Life is so good. And to make it even better, I get to kick off an on-line discussion today. Oh, I've been looking forward to this. :)
Have you started reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years? Yay if you have, no problem if you haven't. The cool part about this book is you can be a part of the conversation whether or not you've read the chapters. And there are so many levels of application--from personal to professional (i.e. lots of neat insight into creating memorable characters, scenes, and stories), there's something for everyone.
So, here's how we're going to do this. Every Monday I'll blog about whatever struck me in the readings for the day. At the end of the post I'll invite you to answer two questions: one related to my own musings, and one soliciting your responses to the chapters we've read. To be perfectly honest, I'm far more interested in what you guys have to say. Then, throughout the week we'll keep the dialogue going. I promise to respond to every comment. In fact, I can't wait to do so. Without further ado...
From the Author's Note:
"... Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo. But we spend our lives living these stories, and expect our lives to feel meaningful. The truth is, if what we chose to do with our lives won't make a story meaningful, it won't make a life meaningful either."
I'm cheating a bit today by launching our discussion with a quote from the Author's Note instead of one of the chapters we read. But if I had to sum up the book in a couple of sentences, this would be my summary. The first time I read this book those lines floored me. I'm sad to say that I have spent much of my life chasing Volvos. Well, not Volvos exactly, but clothes, home decor, vacations... things. And Miller is right. That makes a crappy story.
There are entire weeks and months and years of my life that would make a terrible story and an even worse movie. I'm convinced that nobody, not even my loving God, would be much interested in my teenage quest for a boyfriend, my college self-absorption, and the almost hedonistic indulgence of my twenties. That's not to say that my life story is entirely meaningless--it's definitely peppered with moments that transcend my own selfishness--but I want more than just a great scene or two. I want to live an epic.
But epics don't happen overnight. They develop slowly, age like fine wine. And they begin long before anyone realizes that they're in the midst of a grand narrative... Which leads us to Random Scenes. In the first chapter Miller laments that his life is little more than a collection of random scenes. And yet, I believe that what we remember about our lives (about ourselves) says something about who we are. What do you remember?
Looking way back, to my childhood and young adulthood in particular, there are two types of memories that stand out. The first is a collection of all the imaginary worlds I inhabited. My cousin and I were best friends and confidantes, and we created vibrant imaginary landscapes that we spent years of our lives perfecting and playing in. From Ancient Egypt to the Midwestern prairies, we lived as queens and handmaidens, explorers and adventure-seekers. It's funny how those memories are crisp in my mind's eye and yet I can't remember the name of my third-grade teacher. The second type of memory is not quite so fond... For some reason, I very clearly remember everything I have done wrong. Every time someone yelled at me or I got in trouble, every time that I was made fun of or teased or hurt. You'd think that those sorts of memories would be repressed, or at least relegated to some far-flung and cobwebby corner of the filing cabinet that is my brain, but instead each incident is meticulously cataloged and made available at the slightest provocation. Anything can bring back those feelings, those ugly scenes. Sometimes it's a scent, a scene in a movie, or a sideways glance. Whatever triggers the memory, the end result is always the same: I'm left feeling exposed, naked. Like one of those dreams when you show up at a party and realize you've forgotten to put on clothes. Yuck.
Okay, so we've begun... This feels like a strange place to stop, but we're building something here. It's going to come a piece at a time. So, I'm going to sign off and leave it to you. It's your turn. Here are my questions for you. Answer one, answer them both, or ask one of your own. It's up to you!
1.) What in these chapters stood out to you? Why?
2.) What are some random scenes from your life? What do you think they say about you? (In fairness, I haven't answered the second half of this question. I will, in the comment section... But I'd like to hear from a few of you first.)