A Book Worth Reading: “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” – part 3

This is the third and final part of some quotes from Donald Miller's latest book.

  • I'm convinced the most fantastical moment in the story, the point when all the tension is finally relieved, doesn't actually  happen in real life. And I mean that seriously. I've thought about it fifty different ways, but I can't figure out how a human life actually climaxes so that everything on the other side of a particular moment is made to be okay. It happens all the time in movies and books, but it won't happen to me – and I'm sorry to say, it won't happen to you either.

    Maybe the reason we like stories so much is because they deliver wish fulfillment. Maybe we sit in the dark and shovel sugar into our mouths because in so many stories everything is made right, and we secretly long for that ourselves. (p. 200)

  • If you think about it, an enormous amount of damage is created by the myth of utopia. There is an intrinsic feeling in nearly every person that your life could be perfect if you only had such-and-such a car or such-and-such a spouse or such-and-such a job. We believe we will be made whole by our accomplishments, our possessions, or our social status. It's written in the fabric of our DNA that life used to be beautiful and now it isn't, and if only this and if only that, it would be beautiful again. (pp. 201-202)
  • To be sure, I like Jesus, and I still follow him, but the idea that Jesus will make everything better is a lie. It's basically biblical theology translated into the language of infomercials… I think Jesus can make things better, but I don't think he is going to make things perfect. Not here, and not now. (pp. 203-204)
  • When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are. And when you stop expecting material possessions to complete you, you'd be surprised at how much pleasure you can get in material possessions. And when you stop expecting God to end all your troubles, you'd be surprised how much you like spending time with God. (p. 206)
  • Do I still think there will be a day when all wrongs are made right, when our souls find the completion they are looking for? I do. But when all things are made right, it won't be because of some preacher or snake-oil salesman or politician or writer making promises in his book. I think, instead, this will be done by Jesus. And it will be at a wedding. And there will be a feast. (p. 206)
  • My friend Randy recently created a great memory with his daughter. When his daughter entered high school, she started to get more interested in girl things, and the two of them didn't talk as much as they used to. When she got asked to the prom, she was very excited. Her dad simply responded by saying congratulations. She quickly slid past him and jumped up and down in front of her mom. He didn't mean to be dismissive, but he didn't know what he was supposed to say.

    About a week later he was watching SportsCenter when when his wife and daughter came home with a dress. They didn't say anything to him, knowing he wouldn't be interested, and went back to the daughter's bedroom so she could put it on. When she came into the living room to show her dad, he turned down the volume and told her she looked nice, that it was a nice color, but when she curtsied and thanked him and walked away he knew he should have said more. He wanted to tell her that she was beautiful and that she was his princess and all the stuff fathers find so hard to say to their daughters. He turned the television back on and tried to pay attention to the scores, but all of this kept bugging him. Then he came up with an idea. He decided to create a memorable scene, if you will. He turned off the television and went into his closet and put on his suit. Without letting his wife or daughter see him, he found the family camera and knocked on her door. When his daughter opened the door, she was still in the dress and her mother was sitting on the bed with stick-pins in her mouth. My friend said his wife almost swallowed the pins.

    "Honey," my friend said to his wife, "would you mind taking a picture of us?"

    "Daddy, you're wearing a suit," his daughter said, confused.

    "I want to look good in the picture too," he told her.

    The three of them ended up dancing in the living room until one in the morning, my friend and his wife telling stories about their own prom dates and how they wished they would have known each other in high school. (pp. 210-211)

  • A good movie has memorable scenes, and so does a good life… We have to force ourselves to create these scenes. We have to get up off the couch and turn the television off, we have to blow up the inner-tubes and head to the river. We have to write the poem and deliver it in person. We have to pull the car off the road and hike to the top of the hill. We have to put on our suits, we have to dance at weddings. We have to make altars. (p. 214)
  • I wondered how much it costs to be rich in friends and how many years and stories and scenes it takes to make a rich life happen. You can't build an end scene as beautiful as this by sitting on a couch, I thought to myself. (p. 228)
  • (In speaking of movies where the good guys don't always win) It wasn't necessary to win for the story to be great, it was only necessary to sacrifice everything. (p. 231)
  • A good storyteller doesn't just tell a better story, though. He invites other people into the story with him giving them a better story too. (p. 236)
  • I don't ever want to go back to believing life is meaningless. I know there are biochemical causes for some forms of depression, but I wish people who struggle against dark thoughts would risk their hopes on living a good story – by that I mean finding a team of people doing hard work for a noble cause, and joining them. I think they'd be surprised at how soon their sad thoughts would dissipate, if for no other reason than they didn't have time to think them anymore. There would be too much work to do, too many scenes to write. (p. 247)

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