“A story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.” Donald Miller, from “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”.
Having just read the aforementioned book I am now prone to wild swings of the imagination in how we can edit our own lives into a story that seems a little more purposeful and productive in a creative and beneficial way.
Not that our lives are like a well written novel or movie where every scene has been written for maximum impact and plot development—where everything seems to finally come together within the last few pages or frames upon the screen. Charles R. Swindoll, in his famous quote about our attitudes when faced with circumstances beyond our control wrote, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it … we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
The older I get the more I begin to understand that if we aim for nothing, that’s what we will get. This being true, then why not aim high instead of low, far instead of near, towards the impossible instead of the merely doable. Instead of settling into a routine of just making it through the day why don’t we begin to live a better story—one that brings adventure back into our lives and excitement into our daily existence.
I myself have found it much to easy to spend my evenings checking my e-mails and Facebook feeds, watching television and otherwise biding my minutes and hours until bedtime. During the reading of Miller’s book, I was reminded of a time, early in my marriage with Sandi, where we both looked forward to those long winter hours when we could sit and read, listen to music, do crafty things together and then head to bed with the satisfaction that comes from a well-rested soul. I can’t remember much more about those times we shared before we started having kids other than the fact that it took a lot of time to stoke the wood fire and we really enjoyed our time together. I guess I should have written it down. I am short on facts but long on feelings.
As I log this post into cyberspace, I am reminded of the many stories in the Bible that have shaped the way I/we look at life and the circumstances that we are sometimes dumped headfirst into—situations we have no control over. One of my favorites is when Joseph ended up in jail because he fled from the sexual advances of his master’s wife. To our modern minds, his story sucked big time for several years until we are brought to the end where his position and preparation in Egypt brought his family out of famine and into feasting.
I have often wondered what his attitude was during all that happened to him after being sold as a slave by his brothers. I guess the answer lies in the fact that in one of the final scenes we are shown he told his brothers that what they had meant for harm, God had meant for good. No doubt he had several years to think about his answer.
Anyway, like it or not, we are consciously or unconsciously living out our stories.
In my story I realize that I am lucky (if such luck exists) to be alive. Last night I had a dream that reminded me of a real life event that happened when I was a young teenager. All I can remember of the dream is that as I was waking, I saw myself floating down a rapidly flowing river and the person floating next to me had just popped to the surface with a big smile on his face.
During my teen years I lived in Port Huron, Michigan where the very, very wide Lake Huron funneled into the quarter mile wide Saint Clair River. It was at this juncture that the Blue Water Bridge crossed from Port Huron into Sarnia, Ontario. Suffice it to say, all this water coming into a very confined space created a very rapid current. And even though it was supposedly off limits, we would jump into the water at this point and float the several miles to Marysville, where one of my friends mothers would pick us up. It was a lot of fun and none of us ever thought of the fact that we could easily drown or be sucked into a freighters wake. To this day I am not sure what we told these innocent mothers that we were doing.
There are certainly other stories I could tell at this point which would demonstrate my “lucky to be alive” statement.
I guess the real point is none of us know how many more months or years we have left to live out whatever story we are currently living. If we have the ability to “edit” the story we are in, what would these edits look like. We can certainly begin to look at our circumstances with a different attitude as Chuck Swindoll would attest.
I know that somewhere in what I have said, there is a balance to be had. Or as Mark Twain put it, “The unexamined life may not be worth living, but the life too closely examined may not be lived at all”.
And that is my ride today…hope yours is going well and your bike is well oiled.