While working with screenwriters on the film version of his autobiographical book Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller observed that his life really wasn't very interesting. He began striving to give his life the elements inherent in all good stories: conflict, heroism, sacrifice, and ultimately--meaning.
It's a fascinating journey that Miller takes us on. He begins by making major changes in his life: improving relationships, facing long-held fears, exercising his ice cream- and TV-loving body, setting and accomplishing specific and challenging goals--like hiking the Inca trail, biking across the country, and meeting his father.
It's all done in Miller's self-deprecating, insightful, humorous, think-about-God-in-a-way-you-never-did-before style. The book is entertaining and encouraging, but mostly, it is challenging. To think about one's life on earth as a story--with a beginning, middle and end, exerts a certain pressure to get it right.
One of my favorite lessons from the book is when Miller explains the screenwriter's tool for developing dramatic, memorable scenes. Miller tells the story of a family who when guests pull away from the dock at their lake house, the whole family surprises and thrills the departing guests by waving goodbye and then jumping into the lake--fully clothed. Maybe I won't ever bike across the country, but hey, I could jump into a lake with my clothes on. I could make a scene or two.