Friday, August 20, 2010

To Live a Better Story

On February 6, 2010 I wrote a blog titled “Embark.”

On February 7, I did just that. I flew to Los Angeles. I lived with a stranger. I worked at a music magazine. I flew to Washington. I drove to the Grand Canyon. I walked the stars, and even met some. I embarked.

Upon returning home, I have felt this need to live a better story… to live a life that catches people’s attention. Part of it may be a reflection of the Los Angeles mentality of self-centeredness and fame. However, I know myself better than that… and I’d like to think that this feeling is rooted in something that has always been a part of me: a desire to change people’s lives. That’s a pretty broad statement, and I’ve been putting a lot more thought into what exactly that means for me right now.

I don’t know why we need stories, but we always have. I’d say it’s just that we like them, that they’re entertaining, but it’s more than that. It’s a thing in us that empties like a stomach and then needs to be filled again. This is how it has always been.(p.80, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller)

I don’t think it was any coincidence that I finally picked up Donald Miller’s book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” that had been sitting on my shelf since the day it was released, and read it cover to cover in a couple days. It put everything I had been thinking and feeling about living a more intentional life into a new perspective for me. I felt like I sat down with a friend for coffee, and a few days later realized we have had some of the same revelations… except he used much better metaphors.

Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you’re going to get excited about it, and then when it comes times to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. […] People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.(p.100, Miller)

What story do I want to live? I have had a few things on my “to live a better story” list… things I have weighed the obstacles of and know would take significant amounts of perseverance in some cases. First, I want to travel to Australia before I turn 30. I would also like to go on a significantly long bike trip… anywhere from 1-3 months long, perhaps across Japan (No, this is not an idea I stole from the book… I’ve been wanting to do this since 3 years ago when I went on my first 60-mile bike ride and loved it). Within the next couple years, I want to release my first full-length album of my own original music, and book a tour to promote it.  I want to become Adobe certified, specifically in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. And while doing all of this, I want to build up my blog and write consistently about people I meet, places I go, music I hear, things I learn, and things God is revealing to me along the way.

There are many obstacles…. Most obviously, financially. I mean, my part-time job right now is great for pursuing music and traveling on the side, but how will I fund some of these experiences? Thank goodness blogging is free!  Traveling is an obvious pricey pursuit… and flights to Australia are at a minimum $1,000. My hybrid bike certainly wouldn’t be a good choice for hundreds or thousands of miles of biking…. So a road bike would need to be purchased. Recording music, promoting it, packaging the CDs and artwork design… all of that adds up. On top of all that, taking courses to get training in those Adobe programs is another obvious financial obstacle. I’ll also need to purchase those programs for my own use to complete the training! Have you ever looked up the price of those programs? I could fly to Australia a couple times! Money can be such an unfortunate barrier sometimes. I also need time to do this… or rather, the ability to set aside time for it. So how can I let this NOT become a barrier? Do I need to give up the “luxury” of part-time work (a.k.a. extra free time) and get a full-time job, even if it isn’t in music, creative marketing, or other media-based jobs? I dislike the idea of not using my college degree in Music Business to help me pursue a professional career. I guess in order to live a better story, I am going to have to make changes, sacrifices even... and make smarter decisions while hoping for some extra blessings along the way to keep me moving forward.

So, there’s this conference in Portland, Oregon that I would absolutely love to go to. It’s the Living A Better Story seminar, put on by Donald Miller. I can’t quite think of a better place for me to go and gain more insight into this whole “living a better story” idea. I guess that is why they called the seminar that. :)  If interested in reading more about it, check it out at Donald Miller's Website.  Unfortunately I hear that it is basically sold out, and with my recent trip to the east coast and my future trips to Nashville and the Bahamas planned for music events, I’m afraid my finances can’t take much more of a hit to get me to Portland… so I’m entering this contest to try and win a trip to this conference! If you’re in the Portland, area, however… you should go to this seminar and take notes for me… I’d owe you big time!

Here’s a promo video from Donald himself, talking about the seminar!

I’ve set goals. I’ve been dreaming. I’ve planned, discussed, weighed, and hoped. I think it’s time to start making things happen, no matter how hard it may be. I did it with moving to Los Angeles for those three months, and despite feeling scared to death during the days leading up to it… it proved to be one of the most exhilarating, meaningful, and growing experiences I’ve had so far. I want to live my life filled with meaningful experience. I want to write a better story.

And life no longer felt meaningless. It felt stressful and terrifying, but it definitely didn’t feel meaningless.(p. 176, Miller)

Living a Better Story Seminar from All Things Converge Podcast on Vimeo.

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