Don Miller is holding a contest over on his blog for a free trip to his Living a Better Story seminar in Portland, Oregon, next month. To enter the contest, you write a blog entry about what kind of story you want to live and how you hope the seminar will help you achieve that. (For more details on the contest, go here -- and please hurry because the contest ends this Friday.) This is my contest entry. It’s doing double duty for my faithful blog readers as an update on where I’m headed next.
First, though, watch this video which explains a little bit more about the conference and makes you really want to attend.
Here is the story I want to live: I am going to move across the country -- from one coast to the other. This is going to happen sometime between January and June of next year (2011), depending on when I am able to find a job. I am looking for a job in book publishing because, in about ten years or so, I want to be a really top-notch book editor and maybe even have my own publishing company. But that’s not the story. The story is me moving across the country. It’s a big move because I’ve lived on this coast all my life. My family and friends are here; I went to college here; I work and vacation here. All my memories are here, and all my ideas of God. I need a new mental landscape.
In A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Miller says that a story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. The conflicts in my story are obviously practical (finding a job, a place to live, etc.), but also emotional. In fact, my biggest conflict is fear.
I’m afraid of getting sick again. My health has improved tremendously since I started getting treated for Lyme disease, but Lyme is hard to treat. I’m afraid of a relapse, either before I actually get the chance to move or after I'm 3,000 miles out on my own.
My other fear is of loneliness. I hardly know anyone on the other side of the country. My entire immediate family, the people who take up the biggest part of my life, are all here in one state, most of them still in one house. It's hard to think of being so far away.
But I so desperately want to find out if life can be better than it has been for me . . . if things like hope and meaning and beauty really exist, if God really is good. For some reason I feel like I have to go far away from familiar ideas and images in order to answer my questions.
Really, this move is a practice story, not the real story, which I think will come later. A good story starts with a character, and I’m honestly not sure who my character is. I know a lot about what I want to do in my life, but not who I am or want to be. Maybe the only way to find that out is to do something that tests my mettle, helps me see what I’m made of. Hence the practice story. I think the real story is going to happen down the road, in relationships, in decisions.
I want to go to the seminar for encouragement -- to be reminded that sacrificing for something only imagined is worthwhile and that better stories really are possible. And I also want to get some ideas for thinking creatively around practical and emotional obstacles, to help me stop taking “no” for an answer.