If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove it off the lot, testing the windshield wipers. You wouldn’t go out and tell people you saw a beautiful movie. The truth is, you wouldn’t remember that movie a week later, except you’d feel robbed and want your money back. Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo. But we spend years actually living those stories and expect our lives to feel meaningful. The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a story meaningful, it won’t make life meaningful either. In the book "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years", Donald Miller shows that when we start making our lives like a good story, our lives become filled with meaning. Miller says all people are living a story, whether good or bad. Most people do not pay attention to their own stories. Just think about your life. Do you remember most of the details that have happened so far in your life? Probably not. And this is the saddest thing about the lives of many of us. Life is more about stories than we think. We can learn to become better at telling stories and live our lives by living a better story. But have you ever thought about how your life would look like if you tried to live a better story? In the book, Miller uses his life as an example to show how a bad story can be made better.
Donald tells his story and how he felt stuck in life. He had a job he didn't like, a failed marriage, and no real sense of purpose. But then, he got an unexpected opportunity to turn his life into a story. Donald was approached by two filmmakers who wanted to make a movie about his life. They told him that his life was boring and uninteresting and that they needed to create a more compelling story if they were going to make a movie out of it. So, they asked Donald to think about what kind of story he wanted to live. At first, Donald was resistant to the idea. He didn't like the idea of his life being turned into a fictional story, and he didn't know how to make his life more interesting. But then he started to realize that he could change his life in real ways and that he could turn his own life into a story that he was proud of.
Donald first started to learn what makes a great story, so that he could apply it to his own life. He learned that "Every great story involves conflict, character transformation, and overcoming change." At first, he wanted an easy story. But if you look at great stories, none of them were easy for their characters. In those stories, people had to face big conflicts and overcome so many challenges, and the character gets transformed as a result of overcoming those challenges. We may think we want an easy story, but the truth is, we remember and appreciate the ones that challenged us. After learning this, Donald started to make changes in his life. He started to take risks and do things that he had always been afraid of. He went on a bicycle trip across the country, he volunteered to help build a house for a family in need, and he even started dating again. These were things that he would usually avoid, but now he knew great stories are told in conflict, so he gladly welcomed these challenges to his life.
Then he learned the most important theme of the story. "A story is someone who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it." As Donald changed his life, he started to see the world in a new way. He realized that he had control over his own story and that he could make it a story worth telling. He used to sit on the couch and watch countless hours of Netflix. When he decided to participate in a cross-country bike ride with a group of friends, he knew it would be a huge challenge, but he was determined to do it anyway. As Miller and his friends set out on their journey, they faced all kinds of challenges - physical, emotional, and moments of self-doubt. But despite these challenges, Miller refused to give up. He pushed himself to keep going, even when he was exhausted and discouraged. And in the end, he succeeded in completing the bike ride, achieving a personal victory, and gaining a sense of accomplishment that he had never felt before. He discovered that by taking on challenges and pursuing his dreams, he could create a life that was truly worth living. Then he learned the most important lesson: “If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation.” When we face challenges and overcome them, we become better versions of ourselves. Throughout the bike ride, he was able to push through all the challenges, and as a result, he transformed into a stronger and more confident person. And this is what happens in every great story. The protagonist must overcome conflict and challenges to grow and change. As a result of the bike ride journey, Miller became a better version of himself.
In the end, Donald's life had become a great story. He had gone from being stuck and unhappy to being a hero in his own life.
We can all learn from Miller to make our own lives into great stories. We should welcome challenges instead of running from them, as they make our lives more meaningful and help us grow. Only through overcoming challenges can we grow to become better versions of ourselves.