Good stories contain memorable scenes. And your life is a story.

Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life is all about what it’s like if you choose to live your life as a great story. His thoughts are based on his experience editing a movie about his life.

In one chapter he talks about creating memorable scenes and says this is as important in our lives as it is in creating a film.

I’ve forgotten so many details of my past but it’s true that the scenes stand out… sitting in the back of a pickup with friends while zooming through an Arizona desert… getting lost while driving with my bridesmaids through endless Illinois cornfields on the way to my wedding… crying with sadness in front of my boss as she was in the midst of giving me a glowing job performance review… giving birth to my fourth child at home…

Rather than simply wait for such scenes to happen to you, it’s OK to create a scene with the specific intent to make something – even something very ordinary – more memorable. And I’m not talking about parties or other expected scrapbook-worthy things (those are cool too but I’d be pretty much doomed if the scenes had to be something worthy of being photographed and scrapbooked).

For example, my oldest daughter offered to walk her 8 year old sister to her swimming lessons during the two week session because her little sister had been begging for alone time with her. She stays there at the pool during the lesson and reads (and gets a glimpse of the pool mom subculture while she’s at it, but that would require a separate post of its own).

As profoundly ordinary of an activity as that is, I’m certain my 8 year old will remember this scene of her big sister taking her to the pool for a very long time.  Certainly longer than if I had schlepped her there (unless I had succeeded in making a scene by not blending in with the other pool moms while there, but there I go digressing again).

Miller gives an example of a friend of his who wanted to participate in his daughter’s excitement of getting asked to go to prom. When she came home with the dress and rushed to show her mother, he knew that saying “nice dress” would be inadequate.

So he put on a suit and asked to be photographed with her. The daughter was startled, but clearly got the memo that her father thought she was special and looked great. They ended up spending the evening dancing and talking in the living room with her mother.

I guess the point is that you don’t have to fly to Hawaii to create a memory like this . You can make a scene right at home too.


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