I really love how Donald Miller writes. If you haven’t read any of his books, i encourage you to do so. He writes in a way that speaks to you, like he wrote the book specifically for you. Right now I’m reading “How I learned to live a better story”, totally different than what i thought it would be but good nonetheless. The book talks about how our lives are like stories and there is an okay way and a better way to live them. He is telling us the process it took to turn his bookBlue Like Jazz into a movie– which if you didn’t know, means you basically have to rewrite the whole thing. In one of the chapters it talks about how in a movie a character has to have an inciting incident happen to them to force them to change, which is very much like real life. “Perhaps one of the reasons i’ve avoided having a clear ambition is because the second you stand up and point toward a horizon, you realize how much there is to lose.” I’ve always had pretty vague ambitions. Maybe more so over the past years while I watched all my friends attend a university pursuing what I thought were the only ways to attain a legitimate job. (Now I know there are more ways than just school to become successful and get a good job) I would always halfway commit to something and say oh yeah this is what i want to do with my life, knowing full well in my heart I wasn’t truly committing… therefore setting myself up for failure and disappointment. Its only been recently that I have decided to “point toward my horizon”. I have been growing into my skin this past year and the fog around my horizon is dissipating. My horizon is taking its shape and looking sharper… easier for me to see and run towards. I guess thats been my problem over the years, my horizon has been clouded with doubts and other peoples ideas, with negative opinions and fears that I have been bumping into that I never was able to see my full horizon.
As Donald says in his book, “The most often repeated commandment in the Bible is ‘Do Not Fear’… before I realized we were supposed to fight fear, I thought of fear as a subtle suggestion in our subconscious designed to keep us safe, or more important, keep us from getting humiliated.” The Bible teaches us that we will fear, in life, but it also teaches us to not let fear take control over us. It tells us, fear is normal and you will feel it but don’t let it run your life. I have definitely let fear control my life one or two times. Not in a dramatic way where I would lock myself in my room and be afraid to come out into the real world for months at a time, but in a subtle way where it led me to live a boring life. I got stuck in the safe zone and would lock up my dreams and ambitions, too afraid to reach out and grab them. And that led my life to be kind of boring and meaningless, I was working jobs i hated for money that could not even pay for rent if i wanted. I was going to a community college in Houston with no intention of transferring to a 4 year university and with no real dreams. Now i work two – no wait- three jobs i love and i can say I am able to financially support myself in Boston and its expensive up here y’all. Aside from that though, I am pointing towards my horizon. I know what I want to do with my life, I know what I want to achieve… now I just gotta dive in head first. “I guess what I am saying is, I believe God wants us to create beautiful stories, and whatever it is that isn’t God wants us to create meaningless stories, teaching the people around us that life just isn’t worth living.”
That doesn’t mean everyone should go out and be astronauts or race car drivers or whatever else seems thrilling and life threatening. It means that you should go out and live your story, not let it pass you by on the couch watching TV or via social media. Go out and live a life full of meaning, purpose and intention. Even if it starts out small, like planting a garden (although that by no means is a small task) or if it’s to start walking everyday to get in shape, painting the first piece of your collection, writing a song, starting a band, going on a date with that special someone,applying for an internship, starting a company or business, or maybe just start writing the business plan… whatever it is do it with purpose, meaning, and intention. It can start off big or small so long as you are taking the steps to switch gears in your life. Take it off of neutral and put your life into drive. It is so easy to let things just happen to us, to let us watch our life go by without even making it out of bed. It’s easy to be lazy but the reward is in the struggle. The reward is in the hardships, the challenge, the breakdowns.
Donald Miller tells a great story about how him and a couple of his friends went to Peru to hike one of the worlds most excruciating hiking trails, the Inca Trail. There is an easy route that takes six hours to get to Machu Picchu, their destination. Their guide, Carlos explained that this route in the ancient times was the commercial route, but if you were visiting Machu Picchu on a pilgrimage you had to take the Inca Trail which took four days to get to. They were on their way to take the four day way. Someone from Don’s group asked why the Incas would make people take the long route, “Because the emperor knew the more painful the journey to Machu Picchu, the more the traveler would appreciate the city, once he got there.” Carlos informed everyone. And painful was the journey, Donald explained in this chapter. They went through high altitudes and low altitudes, steep hills, and dealt with intense climate. But when they finally reached to their destination, four days later … they were so grateful, and saw the true beauty of the city for they had to travel far and wide to get there. You can take a train and a bus to get there but you wouldn’t experience the city the same. “The story made us different characters than we would have been if we skipped the story and showed up at the ending an easier way.” Sometimes we think our lives might have been or will be easier without all the struggle and hardship, but I think without it it is difficult to appreciate the beauty in the reward. Knowing you have accomplished, succeeded, or overcame a difficult time/task is always so much more rewarding when you know you worked your butt of for it. The most memorable accomplishments of mine, and even some of my best memories have been ones where I have struggled the most… because I worked the hardest then to overcome whatever battle it was, it challenged me and made me have to fight for what I wanted to achieve. The struggle pushed me to new limits and made me learn new things I didn’t even know I was capable of, and I got to appreciate the other end of the journey that much more. Although at times I cry out thinking “why me? this isn’t fair”, at the end of the day I am thankful for the struggles I face because I know they are shaping my character, making me a better person. The hardships remind me that I am alive and kicking, they remind me to live each day with purpose and intention. And I know with every struggle there is more beauty to be appreciated.
“It made me think about the hard lives so many people have had, the sacrifices they’ve endured, and how those people will see heaven differently from those of us who have had easier lives”