In my introduction, I mentioned that I’d picked up A Million Miles in a Thousand Years on a whim. It’s not a book about BPD; indeed, I didn’t find out about it through anything relating to BPD. I was actually just reading the (beautiful, amazing) birth story of a woman whose daughter was born with Downs Syndrome. The author mentioned purchasing Miller’s book as a background detail. I think she included it because the book, due to its message, probably seemed like a divine appointment before the twist she was about to experience in her own story.
The author of that blog post didn’t say much about the book, just that it made her evaluate her life and that she read it with a highlighter. I honestly don’t know why I bought it except that I was thinking of moving to my boyfriend’s city and I thought it might inform that scary decision. When I got it, I started reading and was surprised at how apt it was for this difficult time in my life. I think God wanted me to read it for insight far beyond whether or not I should move.
In the book, Miller discusses his experience editing his life to be made into a screenplay. Throughout the process, he learns more about what makes a meaningful story and realizes his life is comfortable and easy, but not the story he wants it to be. One of his primary realizations was that life involves character transformation — it’s not about achieving a certain goal or reaching certain socially agreed upon milestones like graduating, marrying, and reproducing. Instead, it’s about how the experiences you go through and the stories you set up for yourself (because we do, to an extent, set up our own stories or avoid doing so) change who you are.
Miller discusses how stories have an inciting incident, something that begins the rising action and conflicts of the plot. He refers to this incident as a door that, once you pass through, the story is set in motion and there’s no going back. The story is inevitably less comfortable than not living the story, but it also confers rewards and growth beyond a life of comfort. Miller talks of adding characters and goals to your story, and about how the most unusual — and even the most difficult — experiences are the ones that make life meaningful, not the vanilla days where things have been comfortable.
For me personally, as I mentioned in my video journal introduction, this book felt like God saying, “Remember that I told you about your story? It’s time to begin. There’s no going back.” My boyfriend’s recent revelation about his uncertainty about marrying me was my inciting incident, and to be honest, there’s not a lot I wouldn’t do to claw my way back to the happy times before it. However, I’ve seen him grow in ways that, if not for my confounded anxiety, would seem pretty awesome and wonderful to me. And I know I’ve grown as well — this incident led to my diagnosis and led me to begin therapy. I began to install coping mechanisms and ways to maintain healthy emotional boundaries out of absolute necessity, and I wouldn’t have been pushed to do so without the pain.
All in all, the book felt like such a timely read. It’s empowering to read about the ways in which we can decide to create our stories. I also just appreciated Miller’s voice — this isn’t a bubblegum Christian read churned out by the religious industry (I’m a committed Christian and though I love some Bible studies and such that that industry puts out, I’m disillusioned by the machine as a whole.) His faith is clear and devoted even as he talks about sharing a glass of bourbon with friends. There’s no pretense, no legalism disguised as spirituality. I so appreciated that.
This was a very valuable book for me, and I hope you’ll get a copy too.