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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

story: an introduction.

word of the day: story \stȯr-ē\ a person that wants something and is willing to overcome conflict to get it.

Today’s definition comes not from Merriam-Webster.  Instead, it’s lifted off the pages of Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, a book in which I very deeply resonate with.

The premise of his book is simple: as people, we live stories.  We are the protagonists of our own life stories, and we have the ability to choose how the pages pan out.  We hold the pen. 

I love this excerpt from the book:

[When] you live a story[,] the first part happens fast. You throw yourself into the narrative and you’re caught in the water, the shore is pushing back behind you and the trees are getting smaller. The other shore is inches away and you can feel the resolution coming, the feeling of getting out of you’re boat and walking the distant shore, looking back to see where you came from. The first part of a story happens fast, and you think the thing is going to be over soon. But it isn’t going to be over soon. The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined. It’s as though the thing is teaching you the story is not about the ending but about the story itself, about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle. The shore behind you stops getting smaller, and you paddle and wonder why the same strokes used to move you but they don’t anymore…The shore you left is just as far and there is no going back, there is only the decision to paddle in place or stop, slide out of the hatch and sink into the sea. Maybe there is another story at the bottom of the sea? Maybe you don’t have to be in this story anymore? Maybe you can quit and not have to paddle in place anymore?

I often think about this in my life retrospection.  What kind of story am I living? Am I living something that’s worth telling someone else?  Or am I living a mediocre fantasy story with little prospect of being turned into a movie?  Am I getting fed up in the middle?  Am I tossing the oars overboard or am I layering on an extra coat of resilience and packing an extra bottle of ink?

I wrote a new chapter into my life recently.  The current in-progress title is “Africa," and I know.  It has some jazzing up to do.

Jake and I returned from three weeks in Africa this past Sunday night, and since then, I have been agonizing over how best to write about it.  How best to tell the story.

Consider this the introduction to the story because even as I put these words down, I’m dotting a few i’s that I hadn’t realized I’d written yet.

I was asked three questions about the trip before we set sail back to the States:  What did you learn about others?  What did you learn about God?  What did you learn about yourself?

At the time, I was frustrated to be sans an answer.  I had no real clarity around any of the questions and couldn’t seem to form answers that contained any substance.  Well, it should not surprise anyone that I have been processing answers to said questions since they were asked and now, it’s the only organization to my thoughts that feels right. 

So, if you’re interested in hearing about our trip to Africa, this post isn’t going to give you any answers.  The next three will though; I promise, so stay tuned.  Until then, let me appease you with some pictures…

To be continued...

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