I did the Storylines experience backwards. Most people first read Don Miller’s book Million Miles in a Thousand Years, then attend a Storylines conference, then start the Storylines workbook and then sign up for the Storylines blog and community. Nevertheless, my “in reverse” experience is transforming my thinking and vocabulary for living an adventurous life.
In Don Miller’s memoir Million Miles in a Thousand Years, he explains how he learned the elements of storytelling while writing a film script. Then he began applying these principles to his own life. He realized the story he was living was less than inspiring and he began making small and big changes and transformed his life and his writing. It helps to understand how he discovered Victor Frankl’s work of logotherapy. It also connects his experience to the Storylines project that is his current focus.
I first read about the Storylines Conference on Don’s blog. I was not sure if it was writing conference or a coaching conference for Christians (it is both). I decided to go when I saw that on of my favorite writers Anne Lamott was going to be there. And I wanted Sarah Harriet to go with me so it would be more fun. One small challenge–it meant arriving from an all day flight from New Zealand on the same morning and going straight back to the airport to fly to San Diego. Everything went off without a hitch and that evening we were sitting with about 2000 other participants in the Point Loma Nazarene University chapel listening to Anne Lamott talk about her writing discipline. (consists mainly of putting butt in chair and writing even if the first draft sounds shitty, etc.)
The Storylines conference attracts mostly “Jesus people” though not exclusively, and mostly 20-somethings though not exclusively. We connected with another mother-daughter pair from Oregon who offered transportation to a Denny’s to get something approximating dinner on Thursday night. We connected with other people over meals in the campus dining hall including two young woman who left for a New Zealand vacation the next week! It is not easy to generalize about why people were there, I would guess that it was for spiritual growth and inspiration to live a more adventurous life. Most people had a more “millennial” attitude toward their faith–faith in action, not a spectator sport. One of the clear favorites at the conference was Bob Goff who had a line of people waiting for a word and a hug everytime he attended a session. My curiosity overwhelmed me and a I bought and read his book Love Does. Wow. I bought several copies for friends and families and gave it to them with the challenge: if you can read the first chapter and put the book down, then give it back to me. I am fairly certain I will not see those copies again.
All of the speakers were very good. The conference content was excellent, especially Don Miller’s teaching. One of the first guest speakers was the writer and director Randall Wallace (Braveheart, Secretariat) and he and Don Miller mentioned Steven Pressfield’s writing. I found his War of Art on Kindle and devoured it. It describes the problem of resistance to positive change and creativity. Jon Acuff, a blogger and speaker, was very entertaining. Nothing he said stuck except his invite to sign up for his “30 Days of Hustle” challenge. I have been enjoying his motivational emails and the 30 Days of Hustle community on Facebook.
Don Miller’s teaching focused on explaining the the Storylines workbook. I did the workbook exercises ahead of time at home. I recommend it and warn you that it can be very emotional and draining. Be kind to yourself while working through it. Some people do it with a study group. And now there is a video series available showing Don Miller and Shauna Niequist going through the exercises. The workbook is essentially like a coaching guide for examining your life story so far and determining what you want it to be going forward. It is all based on Victor Frankl’s theory that what drives people is not the pursuit of pleasure but the pursuit of meaning. Absent meaning, people will numb with pleasure.
The reading and speakers affirmed my hunch: I am on the right path. And this process is very easy to explain and does not offend fellow Christians. The best part is the community of people who are all asking the same questions and provide inspiration and encouragement along the way. If you have been asking yourself questions about how to live a life full of meaning, then I heartily encourage you to begin reading Don Miller’s book.
The title of today’s blog slightly modifies the question on the mug I bought at the Storylines conference: What Will the World Miss if You Don’t Tell Your Story?