The importance of a good story.

I am reading a book at the moment which I am really enjoying. (A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller)

The main premise of the book (a memoir of sorts) is that the things that make a great story are the same things that make a great life.

Chapter 9 is entitled, ‘How Jason Saved His Family’. It tells the story of a middle aged Father whose 13 year old daughter is dating an unsavoury young man, and of the marjuana that is discovered in her bedroom. Of how she was becoming increasingly distant and uncommunicative. Jason doesn’t know what to do about it, or how to talk to his daughter about the choices she is making. Donald doesn’t have any advice to give but instead starts talking to Jason about the components of a good story (ideas he had become consumed with- and seemingly totally unhelpful to the situation of his friend). He comments that Jason’s daughter at that point wasn’t, ” living a very good story”.

A while later Donald sees Jason again. Jason tells him about what he had done. He had taken action. He decided (pretty much out of the blue) that as a family they were going to raise the money to build an orphanage in Mexico. He set his family a challenge, a goal. He called a family meeting and told them of his plan.

After initial shock, refusal and bemusement about the hows, whys and wherefores of this escapade, gradually  Jason’s daughter got on board with the new narrative her Dad had created for her to be a part of. She became active in her own story.

The chapter ends by saying that she had dumped both the boyfriend and the recreational drugs…

“But that’s done now” Jason said shaking his head, “No girl who plays the role of hero, dates a guy who uses her. She knows who she is. She just forgot for a little while.”


It is possible to create a story to live into.

There are a few things a story needs.

First it needs a central character who wants something. This protagonist then has to overcome difficulty and conflict to achieve their goal – to get what they want. Through these experiences they are changed.


I want to live a good story.

So first, I have to figure out what it is I want.

For the past few years what I have wanted is health. To not spend my time obsessing about my current state of health.

To know peace.

To find rest.

I have overcome some many obstacles and have begun to achieve my goal of good health. This story is not over, I am not ‘fixed’ but I have put in a foundation of good habits and a new way to live and my mental health is now not (usually) the battle ground it has been.

So, now what do I want?

It would be easy to say some pat answers. Or maybe to say the ‘right’ thing.

Well-adjusted happy children, a fulfilling marriage.

Or to be selfish and just think about me. To start worrying about those ladders of career, success and acheivement again and decide that is what I want.

But these answers aren’t enough.

Of course I want the kids to be fulfilled and for me and Matt to work as an even more brilliant team…

But I don’t think this answer is complete.

It isn’t specific enough.



I caught a couple of short extracts from a (not very good) reality type documentary on TV over the last few weeks. It was called Big Ballet. And was about a group of larger (Wayne Sleep, not very wisely, described them as “fat”) men and women who want to dance. Some of them can dance – were trained and now have given up, some danced as children, and some danced in secret because they felt they weren’t good enough to dance in public.

All of them say to camera that they no longer felt they could dance in public because they didn’t look right. They didn’t conform and therefore would not be accepted.

In the last episode, this group of people, having been trained and drilled and rehearsed, put on a performance of Swan Lake in a professional theatre, for friends and family and members of the dance community.

With their relatives spurring them on, and a fair few from the dance community looking on cynically, they performed.

There was this fantastic moment, just before they went on to the stage to begin their performance. The camera caught a few faces in close up, with the anxiety, adrenalin and excitement in their eyes.

As I watched this moment I thought, “Now is the time to stop existing, time to start living.”

I watched as this group of people who had previously given up on their dreams, as they threw off their disappointment and fear and chose to risk. To live.

A little voice somewhere inside sang out… “Now, Live!”

Regardless of possible failure, how I look, the massive fool I  could make of myself, or all the things that could go wrong, Wake up… “Now… Live!”


I think I am starting to work it out.

The thing that I, as the protagonist in my own story, want.

I want to find beauty and show it to people.

It might will start small.

It probably won’t look like much. But it is a beginning. A bud.

The root has been forming underground in the dark. In the pain of the last few years. But now shoots are appearing in the hard ground.

See! The winter is past;

the rains are over and gone.

Flowers appear on the earth;

the season of singing has come


The nuances of what the next part of my story looks like is still up for grabs, what conflicts I will have to overcome to enable me to do this is not yet known.

I have no concrete plan…. but I think I am beginning to know what I want…And that means the  next part of my story has begun.

  • Ros
    Posted at 20:42h, 13 March Reply

    I don’t like the story this starts with – father doesn’t like what daughter is doing so makes her do something else..don’t we need to make up our own minds???

    • thehippochronicles
      Posted at 20:53h, 13 March Reply

      Yes of course we do! I must have retold the story ineptly. The Father in this story offers another choice to his daughter who wasn’t happy, and she chooses that. In the book it shows that the his plan could well have totally backfired, but actually it had a very positive outcome for the whole family. The daughter chose to change her story – she wasn’t coerced… apologies if that is how it came across X

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