Not everyone appreciates the author of Blue Like Jazz, but I do. Don moved from Houston to Oregon; I moved from Oklahoma City to Oregon. I find familiarity in his writing. Mostly I like his writing because he tells good stories. In fact, his latest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, is about story.
When I found out that he was on a tour promoting his new book, and that he would be coming to a city near me, I asked my husband if we could take our daughter (the one I affectionately call “Writer Chick”) to hear Don. My husband did what a responsible husband should do. He considered my request in light of the financial and time management ramifications it would have on us. He showed me that it might not be the best time for us to go. I was “okay” with his decision because I always pray that he is the kind of man who gives thoughtful consideration about the stewardship of our resources.
As we drove to church a couple days later he told me he had purchased a new golf putter on line. He was excited about what an incredible deal he’d made on this new putter. He asked me how much I thought the new putter cost. “Was it less than Donald Miller tickets?” I asked.
He told me later it was a good question, but I still apologized for “guilt-tripping” him into making the hour-plus drive to Mesa to see Don.
Don was great, Susan Isaacs who is touring with him was great, and our daughter was gushingly inspired in a way that only 15-year-old aspiring authors can be. But, like I said, I didn’t expect that Don’s ideas would slap me in the face so quickly. I expected to mull things over for a few weeks, applying them in artistic ways at my own convenience.
My husband’s wisdom usually prevails. He knows far more than good deals on golf clubs, and he knew what he was talking about in his hesitancy to make the trip to Mesa. I really didn’t have the time to go see Donald Miller. As a consequence I spent the next afternoon frantically working on publishing the newsletter I supervise for our daughters’ school. I was still recovering from the deadline frenzy when my husband was reading the newsletter last night. “That’s a pretty big typo, Hon,” he said to me. “You left out the ‘i’ in movie for the Movie Review headline.”
I was sick. Typos are bad, but typos in headlines are unconscionable. So much for frenzy recovery. My night was ruined. I tried reading the last 200 pages of the Pat Conroy tome I started three months ago. I tried reading Don’s new book. I even tried watching MTV’s 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs. I couldn’t get over my mistake. I went to bed, but woke up at 3:00 a.m. and told God I realized that this was yet another lesson on humility, and begged Him to help me get over it so I could get some sleep. God didn’t let me close my eyes; He opened them a little wider.
I kept thinking about the typo. There is an “i” in the word movie. It’s a fact as big as a big screen. How could I not catch that? I began to think about what Don had said about movies, how they only tell one story. The protagonist gets to say, “I did this. I was confronted with this conflict. I worked through it like this. I have a story to tell.” That’s it! It’s fitting that there is an “i” in movie. There has to be an “i” in movie. If there is no “i,” time will just move aimlessly, uneventfully across the screen. But here’s the thing…as Don told us, our lives aren’t like movies. We don’t have just one story to tell. We have STORIES. There IS an “i” in stories! And this whole little typo conflict is just one little story that’s moving me on to something beautiful.
I hope I never forget the “i” in stories…but I probably will. It makes a better story that way.