Guest Review: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

Hey friends! My name is Nina, and I blog at The Grand Adventures of Me – a grandiose title for a tiny little girl like me. I’m in my last semester of undergrad, a student of English and Psychology with a minor in Humanities.  I started the blog three years ago so my family could keep up with all my shenanigans while I was off at college, but it has morphed into my space where I write about things I’ve learned through life, my (somewhat) athletic life, and what it’s like to be in an interracial relationship

So, I have to be honest: I wanted to write a review on the book Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid. This was one of my very favorite books that I read this past summer; however, when I went to grab it off my bookshelf to do a skim-through refresher, it was nowhere to be found! (This is the problem with moving between home and school every few months.) I’m sincerely disappointed that I left such a beautiful book at my parents’ house, especially because now I can’t tell you all about how amazing Lucy is, a young woman from the West Indies finds herself in the US nannying for a wealthy family. It’s a coming-of-age novella about feminism, and discovering who you are in the midst of your current circumstances and past experiences. I’m pretty sure it’s on a list of books every 20something should read. So if you have a chance, check it out!

Meanwhile, I’m going to instead gush about the most recent book I finished, which was actually on my list of books to read in 2015. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is one of those books where, if you are an avid highlighter such as myself, the whole book is covered with little yellow lines and scribbled notes in the margins. Donald Miller spends 252 pages encouraging his reader to write a better story with their life. He uses anecdotes from his own life, which are quite adventurous, mind you, to demonstrate the importance of writing a better life story. 

Let’s all admire the fake rose I keep on my windowsill. The only floral accessories I can keep alive. 

So how do we make our life a better story? 

Jordan looked at me with his furrowed brow again. “You put something on the page,” he said. “Your life is a blank page. You write on it” (p 93).

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years pertains to everyone, but especially bloggers. Here we are, a group of people who daily arrive to a meeting with our laptops to create portraits of ourselves so that it looks like we are living a life of importance. There’s only so many ways I can portray my daily routine of yoga, coffee, reading, and Netflix. This book encouraged me to say “Yes!” more, and to be more aware of the type of life I am living. Living a comfortable life with a doctorate degree, a 401K, and a fund for my childrens’ future college career sounds so inviting because there is a plan and a way that life will go. Yet while that all sounds like a sigh of relief, I want my life to be more! I want to say “Yes” if life takes me across the Atlantic. I want to say “Yes!” to this Oxford seminar on Jane Austen and C.S. Lewis that I’ve had my eye on since I was a freshman in college. I want to live a life that demonstrates God’s goodness, faithfulness, and glory. 

In order to reach that point, though, we have to live a life of conflict. The “inciting incident” stands out the most to me from this book. The inciting incident is the tool writers use to push their characters further into conflict; it forces them to make a decision and either shirk away from responsibility, or to pursue their dreams. Let’s face it, a story with someone who hides in the face of conflict is a terrible story. We don’t finish reading stories without an inciting incident. Think about it, even reality tv has an inciting incident in every single episode. Granted, it’s probably something really stupid like when one of the girls throws a fit that the bachelor didn’t choose her for a date and then she sulks and is passive aggressive towards the other girl. It may be a train wreck, but either way we are drawn in. We crave dramatic tension. We long for change, for the transformation of our former selves into the people we could be.

From the Book

One of my favorite stories Donald Miller shares is when he meets his good friend, Bob Goff (author of Love Does). Donald Miller is on a kayaking trip up the Jervis inlet in British Columbia. One day, the kayaking guide shows the group a house only accessible by seaplane or boat, built by a lawyer so that world leaders could gather together quietly to discuss peace. The closer they get to the house they see the owner of the home, Bob Goff, waving his hands out from the dock. He invites them inside for a meal, and they wind up spending the entire day with Bob Goff and his family, learning about their lives as people who give most of their money away, invite world leaders over on a regular basis, and travel back and forth between Africa regularly (Bob Goff is Uganda’s official lawyer.) 

When the group left, Bob kneeled down on the wet dock and held [the kayak] close as I [Don] lowered myself into the boat. I told him thanks and that I was sorry he got his knees wet. He looked at me and smiled and said it was nothing; just wait. . . As the group is waving goodbye to the Goff family, the entire Goff family jumps, fully dressed, into the water and continues to wave and shout goodbye (p 168)

All in All…

I cannot do the story of Bob Goff and his family justice. But they are an example of a group of people who live a great life story, void of fear, and full of whimsy. Reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years caused me to question one thing: “How am I going to live my life this year?”

If you aren’t telling a good story, nobody thinks you died too soon; they just think you died (p 38). 

Thank you so much for letting me take your time, and I sincerely hope you grab a copy of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Another great seller by Donald Miller is Blue Like Jazz. And, of course, if you’re interested to know more about the crazy family who jumps in water just to give a group of kayakers a special goodbye, check out Love Does.

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