I have been reading a book lately that has gotten me to thinking. Well, that is not entirely true-I had been doing a lot of thinking prior to this but the book seems to be hitting on a lot of sensitive spots for me. It took me a few times to really get into it due to time issues and the weird “Guy Noir” narration voice that plagued my reading at the start but on the fourth or fifth try I was able to purge the voice and get past the first chapter. Now, I am just afraid of the book.
Being a good doobie and not wanting to squander my time reading, I mowed the lawn today-a three hour task with a push mower and an iPod (without the iPod it feels like forever). I cranked my iPod loud enough to drown out the grinding burr of the mower and the irritating inability to quiet my thoughts. On the outside I must have appeared to be a 40-something-ish (not going there), mild mannered, bun sportin’ suburban housewife tending my lawn but on the inside I was rockin’ out to Lady Gaga like nobody’s business (and probably guaranteeing I’ll be deaf by 60) . Groovin’ to my genious mix I walked back and forth, and back and forth-until I got this wise idea to do something funny. My husband is out of town and I, brilliantly I might add, decided to surprise him by cutting an enormous heart shape in the lawn (definitely not what he would be expecting-he likes straight, uninterrupted lines). Yes, I did it. Aaannnd then I regretted it. And then I regretted that I regretted it and, somewhat dejectedly, finished the remainder of the lawn in straight lines-on a diagonal though so I didn’t completely sell out to ordinary.
In the midst of my regretting the regretting part I was still cranking the old iPod and heard a song I am not real familiar with-don’t know the artist-don’t know the name of the song but the words-kind of like the book I am afraid of-echo some of the thoughts that have been nagging on me. The gist of the words goes something like this…when this is all done, who would you rather be? Who WOULD I rather be? The options the artist offered were both bands and that isn’t what I am after-I know that much-which isn’t saying much because I’m not sure who I would rather be-other than the fact that I know it isn’t who I am right now. I am looking down a road and my heart is digging in its heels and pushing back with all its might ( I can actually feel it doing that sometimes) while my brain is telling me-hey-this is what you signed up for so this is what it is going to have to be.
OK, so back to the scary book. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. The name isn’t too scary, the cover is nice and aside from the whole ‘Guy Noir’ thing that was going on in the beginning, appears to be another good read about someone else’s great life. That is until I really started reading it and he ( Donald Miller-the author- not ‘Guy Noir’) started asking some questions and making some observations-and they were kinda familiar. He was struggling to make his life sound more interesting in order to write a better screenplay-he needed to make his life a better ‘story’
I mean, come on here! How do you make your life more interesting than it is without fabricating it? Here’s the punchline-you need to live a better story. Get it? Miller figured it out-he needed to live a better story to make it what it should be. Period. And I know that is what I need to do too. I have known it for a while-it has been buried under the perceived obligations-the bad habits of deference-the drudgery of the undeserving. Having been raised a lapsed Catholic and later converted to the Christian Reformed way of thinking I have cornered the market on existential Christian guilt. I love to encourage others to go after their dreams-to live up to the potential they have and to not be held back-I just can’t seem to manage that for myself though. I do things-lots of things and I always have other commitments, other things weighing my schedule down, a spouse who wants different things from life, my kids need me, the laundry needs doing, the lawn needs mowing…see the pattern? My life is begging for me but the best I give it these days is excuses. It is beginning to hurt.
I did a little blog challenge for myself a while back for Lent. I promised 40 truths in 40 days and they ranged from ordinary confessions like loving marshmallow Peeps to the essence of what I want-which is more. I want more from my life-I want a better story-I want to lose regrets-even the heart shaped grass ones- to leave a legacy of living to my children. Alright-so why am I writing this? First, because I want to create documentary photography books-to travel-and to share the stories of the people and places I experience. The first one I would create is about a small town in North Dakota-one which use to be a bustling little city but now has only 19 residents. I want to photograph, interview and preserve the spirit of the people of Hannah, ND. The ones who carefully tend the ancient cemetery-the women who run the city owned cafe-the old men who throw dice in the morning to see who will pay for coffee. That sense of community-of interconnectedness is a way of life that most of us only search for and I want to capture it. To do that I need to get there. I also need equipment-I can get by with what I have, but good equipment would make it that much easier. I can self publish the book. To do it all well, I would need around 7,500 dollars-I also need permission-I need to drop the head talk. I want to free myself to live a better story so I can tell the better story. Second, being honest about it just might get me the opportunity to learn how to make that better story happen. The Living a Better Story Seminar (<-click to check it out), led by Donald Miller, would equip me with some of the tools to live a better story! Below is a link for a video (If I was really cool I could post videos on my blog…but I’m not so you have to click) about the seminar-check it out-you just might be interested yourself!
(This original post let to 3 more posts addressing my avoidance/completion of the book-let’s just say, I didn’t end up where I thought I would but exactly where I should be. Well worth the read!)