I was fifteen years old and standing along the Rhine River in Germany. There were small pebble rocks under my feet and trees behind me. The sun was setting orange and pink over the water. Three of my friends stood beside me. The moment was peaceful and quiet. My friend Paige suggested we make a memory, so we all stood still and etched the scene into our minds.
It's funny, I don't remember exactly who the other two friends were. I don't remember why we were down there or what happened afterwards. I just remember standing there "making a memory". And ever since, I've made a conscious effort to create memories in my mind. Not long ago I was reading Paige's Facebook info and saw that under "About Me:" she has written "I collect moments". I think that's beautiful.
Making memories with a purpose is largely the point of Donald Miller's new book, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years. Some of the memories I have, like the Rhine River, are isolated and lead nowhere. They weren't part of a greater good and didn't spur me on in life. Others, like the misery of my first year teaching, are powerful motivators that profoundly changed me and therefore affected every relationship I have had since. Miller's book is centered around the idea of story. Of your life being the story that you tell and it's up to you to make it a great story. To make it count. Memorable in some way.
I didn't find nearly as many stop-and-reread quotes in this book as I did in Blue Like Jazz. Instead, it was an overall, overarching idea that challenges the bored life. If you're stuck in life's routine rut, step up and out into a higher, greater story. Make a conscious effort to do something outside yourself and in the process, create some astounding memories.
There are three or four story lines told through the book that keep interest high and make you want to turn pages. I like that. A good book pulls you into the next chapter when you know you should set it down. Each of the stories becomes a challenge toward doing something that gives you purpose in your life. Something big. Something outside of your comfort zone. Something that forces you to confront fear. The hard part is applying that personally. What Miller is free to do with his life as a single, self-employed man is far different from what I can do as a married mother of three. Regardless of the challenge, responsibility still exists. But then, so does the need for direction and meaning.
There's a story for each of us. We can choose the safe, easy one that comes without real work - tiring though it may be. Or we can step up and make life exciting. Direction. Purpose. Experience. Memories. Story.
I want a great life story. Don't you?