Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Well-Written Life

Don't you love it when two pieces of media that you have recently consumed intersect with one another? Several months ago, I read Donald Miller's newest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, which unpacks and explores the idea that all of us are living within a grand narrative and that our calling is to live a truly great story.

Last week, Caroline and I watched a movie called The Brothers Bloom. The film is about two brothers who are lifelong con artists. Toward the beginning of the film, one of the brothers (Bloom, played by Adrian Brody) tells the other brother (Stephen, played by Mark Ruffalo) that he does not want to be a con artist anymore. It's a pretty typical scene in which one one character asserts that he wants out and the other character coaxes him to join him for just "one more job." Despite the fact that I have witnessed scenes like this one in several other films, the writer (Rian Johnson) keeps it interesting with truly good dialogue. At one point, Bloom says something quite profound. He tells his brother that he wants to live an "unwritten life," which is to say he doesn't want to live as a character in one of their cons anymore. The story becomes a journey in which Bloom wrestles with this notion.

I recently listened to an interview with Rian Johson, and he talked about this piece of dialogue. He pointed out that Bloom desires something that is incorrect. None of us truly live an unwritten life. The true quest of his character was not for his life to be unwritten; it was for his life to be written better. This is also the point of Miller's book. We are seeking to live a life that is well-written.

The reason we respond so well to stories (movies, TV shows, books, etc.), is because this is how we filter all of our experiences. We live our lives and we retell our memories to ourselves in a narrative form. We don't think of our lives as a series of random events (at least most of us don't), we see them as a series of stories and, ultimately, one large story.

To be a follower of Jesus is not only to see our lives as stories with meaning, but also to see them as part of a greater story--God's story.

So the question remains, Who is writing my life? It will not go unwritten, but it may very be poorly written. What does it mean to live a life that is truly well-written?


caroline said...

I think you are brilliant.
I love you and I'm glad we're writing our lives together.
It's going to be a great story.

Nancy said...

Another wonderful post.

(Sam and I ought to watch that movie.)

I think you are brilliant, too, Rob.

And that is a wonderful comment by your sweet wife.

By the way, your post below this, on 'Reading with your ears', was great, too.