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Miller’s Miles

Blind Pilot – The Story I Heard

I finally got around to reading Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I love his writing. He makes me laugh out loud no matter where I am. With my family at home. Alone in my office. In a crowded coffee shop. Laughter that can’t be restrained. I’ve often noticed how difficult it is to express sarcasm in the written word. He does it effortlessly. He is self-deprecating. Witty. Profound. What’s not to like?

However, despite a deep appreciation for most everything he writes, I resisted picking this one up for a couple reasons. One, I have a psychotic aversion to trendiness. In the space of a week, it had become the thing to read, and for that reason alone, I wanted no part of it. Two, (and I haven’t been able to completely push through this one yet) I have an equal measure of disdain for anything that smacks of “self-actualization.” And the whole “write your own story” premise smacks of Depak Chopra or something along those lines. Again, my problem. Not his.

Finally, curiosity won out. He lives up to usual form – funny and insightful – generally within two breaths of each other. One of the things I appreciate most about his writing is his ability to summarize an idea that he has been exploring in a memorable phrase or two. Here were a few of my favorites…

“The great stories go to those who don’t give in to fear.”

Deep down, we all know this to be true. Too often fear controls us and confines us to living diminished stories. I think this is one reason I enjoy mountain climbing. It allows me a chance to face and overcome fear. And there have been numerous terrifying situations I’ve found myself in. Narrow ledges for walkways. Sheer rock faces. Ridges that fall of thousands of feet on either side. Falling boulders. Loose hand holds. I’ve had to push through being scared plenty of times on mountains. And hopefully, pushing through fear there, helps me to push through other, more everyday fears.

Speaking of mountains…

“The mountains themselves call us into greater stories.”

I think it is common knowledge that there are beach people and mountain people. Suffice it to say, I’m a mountain person. Both mountains and oceans are epic and beautiful, but mountains require something of you. They are wild and unpredictable. In a word, they are exhilarating. I know that the ocean (especially on the open water) can be equally demanding and wild, but I favor what the mountains have to offer.

“He understood the story was not about him, and he cared more about the story than he did about himself.”

In my opinion, this is the single most important sentence in the entire book. It is one that keeps this book from becoming just another exercise in self-absorption. Re-read the sentence and let it sink in.

However, this statement which points away from self and to something larger had a rival for most important. The  contender being…

“The reason Danes are so happy was this: they had low expectations.”

Poignant and classic.

But the phrases that will linger with me the longest are…

“I didn’t want his words to mean anything. I didn’t want to need his affirmation. But part of our selves is spirit, and spirits are thirsty, and my father’s words went into my spirit like water.”

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  1. January 17, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Yes, that last one may well just stay with me forever…

  2. January 23, 2010 at 10:41 am

    psychotic aversion to trendiness? love that line…

  1. December 17, 2010 at 8:02 pm

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