Monday, January 11, 2010

A New Year. Blah blah blah.

Most peoples' inaugural post in 2010 looks something like this: I want to do this. Or: Last year I did this. Not many of the blogs I have read this year have inspired me or interested me much. Except for one. By one of my favorite authors. Yes. You're right. Donald Miller. I got his newest book for Christmas, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. He's more mature and thoughtful than before, and his life is so much more interesting. The main point of his new book is to do things that create a good story, or a great one. Before two moviemakers approached him about making Blue Like Jazz into a movie, Miller's life was boring and uneventful. He sat around, was fat and lazy, and wrote because he needed money. After meeting with the filmmakers and being told his life was too boring for a movie, his life changed. He hiked the Incan trail in Peru, biked across America, fell in love, and basically transformed his life by thinking about how he wanted his life to be a good story, or, essentially, living a good story.
For the details and a taste of Miller's great writing, read the book. I said all of that to say that Don's new year's post is the only one that inspires me to do anything or piqued my interest. He encourages his readers in his book and through his blog to do whatever it takes to make good memories and do big things. Here's a quote from his post (which comes in two parts):

"Scenes in coffee shops are boring. Movies should be memorable, visual, exciting and different. Now I see it in movies all the time. Writers place characters on top of buildings, in beautiful parks, on busses that bend like an accordions in the middle and so on. Anything to make the scene more memorable, and thus the dialogue more meaningful.

The same principle is true in life. Many of the scenes in your life you remember best were the times you jumped off bridges or smoked a pipe on the roof. "

Miller then went on to give four pointers on how to create memorable scenes. Really, this is just a plug for him, I guess, but this is what resonated with me.

  1. Say yes to awkwardness.
  2. Take the conversation to a different place.
  3. Don't be embarrassed.
  4. Don't be afraid to get wet, cold, dirty, or hot.
He expounds on all of those points, and really, the best thing to do is to read his posts. Here and here.
I want to take his advice and write down some things that I want to do this year. Then I need to create an inciting event to make myself do them. I think, though, that I will have to put some thought into what I want to do. Because before I can do all of the really big things that I want to do, like driving all of Route 66 (Cars inspired me), I need some money. Which requires a job or a rich relative dying and leaving me all their money, of which I have neither.
But keep me accountable, okay? I need some people to bring along with me on whatever adventures I will undertake this year.
This post is my take on New Years'. I don't really go much for New Year's resolutions. They never really work. Once I decided to stop biting my fingernails at New Years. It has decreased, but there is still progress to be made. :) So. This is why I want to live a better story. I am tired of wanting to do things and never doing them. Donald Miller changed his life and his story by forcing himself to do things and telling people what he was going to do.

This is my attempt at that.


  1. peter,

    the purpose of my blog isn't to entertain, interest, or inspire you.
    because sometimes, something aren't about you. one of them being my blog. my blog is for me.


    p/s i'm saying this after a long day of working at 2 jobs, constantly catering to other people's desires, so don't take that too personally. bottom line, if my blog bores you, don't read it. i don't care.

  2. I realized after I posted and before the first comment that this could be taken as an insult to many people who posted things similar to what I condemned, or at least said didn't inspire. It wasn't meant to be. I enjoy reading about peoples' lives and what they have been up to, as well as what they hope to do. When I say that I don't resonate with those kind of posts, it is not an indictment against the people who write them. I would rather set my sights on something other than resolutions. I don't blame or condemn those who choose to resolve to do things.

  3. ...which is what YOU have just done. resolved to do things :) Thanks for sharing. I've been having a hard time doing things i want to do, because i know it will take practice, patience and lots of mistakes. There's life for ya, eh?

  4. Hmmm. Interesting. I read this last night and have been thinking about it a lot since. Setting out to live a good story sounds so much more exciting and attainable than making a long list of New Year's resolutions that will soon be forgotten until I get to the end of the year and look back at it with a sigh.

    Now I am trying to figure out what my story will be.

    I read Donald Miller's posts. They gave me a lot to think about. Here are a few more quotes from that post that I thought were particularly insightful...

    "If we don’t want something in our lives, our stories feel boring, long, meaningless and tired. We feel this way because we are sitting in the theater of our mind watching a story that isn’t getting started. Or worse, we are praying and asking God to give us a story while the entire time God is handing us a pen, telling us to write it ourselves. That’s why he gave us a will."

    "People who are in great shape and have their finances in order probably don’t set goals to be in good shape or get their finances in order. They probably set goals of running a marathon or paying off their house. In other words, they think in narrative rather than goals. The goals get met in the journey of the story."

    "A story involves a person that wants something and is willing to overcome conflict to get it."

    This one basically sums it all up...
    "The idea is to create scenes this year you’ll remember for the rest of your life, and to invite others into the thrill of being alive. I often think of it as worship in the sense that God created this beautiful expanse as an exposition within which to live remarkable stories, and it’s our job to match the story to the expanse, to make use of it, to fill it with memorable scenes."

    What's your story going to be? Donald Miller says you should tell your friends. So tell us? :)

    P.S. Now I really really want to read that book.

  5. (at least you don't chew ... wait, no, i probably shouldn't mention that. :) but now i want to read miller's book. i'm glad he's matured — i found him unbearably pompous sometimes in "blue like jazz" ... even though i really enjoyed that book.