Monday, September 20, 2010
A Million Miles: Chapters 13-16
I'm throwing you a bit of a curveball this morning by including chapter 16 in our "three chapters a week" routine. Sorry 'bout that. It just made sense to include that little mini chapter (the conclusion to Part II) in our discussion today. Though I'm going to talk about something that came up in chapter 13...
Right now I'm going through my annual fall make-over. No, this isn't a physical make-over (though I did buy a pair of skinny jeans in a moment of pure insanity this past weekend), it's more of a total life overhaul. I tend to do this every autumn. I don't know why. Maybe it's the back-to-school routine or the obvious changing of the seasons. Either way, September seems to be a bigger "new start" to me than January 1. Everything feels fresh and ready, ripe for resolutions and refinements that I've been putting off for months.
This year my goals have much to do with simplicity. I want to spend more time with my kids, enjoy long conversations with my husband, go for walks in our new neighborhood. I want to eat less packaged foods and feed my family home-baked breads instead of Oreos. I plan to work out more, get my core in shape, and sweat my way through high-impact cardio. I intend to make one personal connection (email, phone call, coffee chat) every day. I want, in short, to be a better me.
Which is exactly where I think Miller is at by this point in the book. He's trying to find a good story, an ambition, anything that will drive his character to do something meaningful with his life. And at the beginning of chapter 13, that translates into "getting up a little earlier," and "going to fewer movies."
Hmmm. It's a start, I guess. Much like my autumn resolutions are little more than scraping the surface of a more "meaningful" life. Is doing extra sit-ups really going to make my life better? Not likely. And yet these sorts of goals give me structure, something to shoot for even if it seems somewhat inane.
So, here's my question. In our search for meaning, do you think there is value in striving for personal betterment? Do resolutions build character that eventually results in the sort of integrity that prods us to change the world? Or does focusing on our own story insulate us and make us individualistic? In looking at my own list, I can't help noticing that most of the things I hope to accomplish this fall don't extend beyond the borders of my home and family. Somehow that doesn't feel right to me...
What do you think? Are you, like me, constantly in the process of "bettering" yourself? If so, what things drive you? Do you think this is healthy? Or is our culture influencing our understanding (or misunderstanding) of God's desire to write our stories?