I have an on-and-off relationship with Donald Miller’s books — there are always parts of them I like, and parts where his tone and his sense of humour start to grate on me a little. I found the same thing with this one, but generally I enjoyed it quite a lot.
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is a little bit (but not much really) about the process Miller went through after some people decided they wanted to make a movie out of his earlier book, Blue Like Jazz. (One of the people was Christian record-artist-turned-Christian-filmmaker Steve Taylor, upon whom I’ve had a crush since about 1983. No word on how far they’ve gotten with that movie project).
Really, though, the book is about the personal journey Miller went through himself about that time. The problem with turning Blue Like Jazz into a movie is that, like a lot of spiritual memoirs, it doesn’t have a really strong plot — in fact, it has even less plot than most spiritual memoirs. So the filmmakers began talking to Miller about writing the screenplay and taking the ideas and concepts in his memoir but stringing together a story that could carry them. Which led him into a lot of reflections on the idea of plot and story, and how that related to the way he was living his life.
If I could sum up what I got out of this book it would be this: You can be a saved Christian and still be living a pretty unimpressive life, drifting through your life without any real purpose or goal. For Miller, applying the concept of “story” to his own life, seeing himself as the protagonist of his own story, meant that he began taking on challenges and setting goals for himself — little things like biking across America or reconnecting with his long-estranged father. It’s basically the story of a guy slowly waking up to his own life and deciding to life it intentionally rather than drift through it. As I’m a big fan of living intentionally and being the protagonist of your own life story, I enjoyed this book — even if there were a few spots where the trademark Donald-Miller snark grated on me just a bit.