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“There’s something beautiful at night. There’s something beautiful about a billion stars held steady by God who knows what He is doing. They hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free-form verse, silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz.”
After reading these words from the book Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller, I was captivated. I’ve read this book nearly seven times. I’ve highlighted it, written in it, and bent back pages. Donald Miller completely shaped the way I live and even read. Blue Like Jazz is the type of book you read in the winter. You curl up on the sofa, sip hot chocolate or tea, and devour Miller’s words. It’s hard to read this it in one sitting… not because it’s long or difficult, but because it is filled with confessions, deep thoughts, and ideas about the way life is lived. You have to read a page, sit back, and think of what Miller just said. Sometimes it takes an entire day to digest what he says. I keep it on my night stand and read a page or two a day, revisiting it like an old friend.
In Blue Like Jazz , Miller explains how he “went through the motions” of life. He got up, went to school or church, ate dinner, and went to bed. It took going to college and meeting people who he called “real.” These “real” people were out to do something significant with themselves. He mentioned that one of his friends, Amy, said she wanted to live a life that someone would want to make a movie about. This hit Miller and me right in the heart. In a movie, the main character has to have a worthy goal or ambition. More importantly, according to Miller, you need to do something with your life that will affect others. He said “If you were to disappear off the earth, and your death rocks an entire nation: you aren’t going through the motions anymore.”
I rethink how I do things now. I don’t want to go through the regular motions and leave things around me untouched or unchanged. I’m suddenly so excited to get to college, learn all I can, and do things that could potentially change a nation. I want to write like Miller. I want people to read my thoughts and have to sit back and think about it. Blue Like Jazz has not only shaped the way I look at life and live, but also my dreams and goals.
Miller stated in this book: “The most difficult lie I ever contended with is this: life is a story about me.” I really took this to mind going into high school. Even though I rarely have time to myself, a lot of my free time is spent volunteering. Over the past four years I have completed over 55 service and volunteer projects and am a member of six boards and eight community service groups.
The Wreck, for example, is where I have spent most of my time volunteering. This Christian coffeehouse is thriving with service and activity. After watching the impact The Wreck has made on “needy” teens, I have a new outlook on life. I try to be selfless and have a new desire to help those who need me. Most importantly, I have grown closer to God and am truly grateful for how much He has blessed me.
Last year I gave blood at the East Noble Bloodmobile. I am scared of needles and I was shaking, but when it was over, I began to cry—not because it was painful or I was frightened— but because I pictured my blood being pumped into another person’s veins. The realization that I literally saved someone’s life was overpowering.
I whole-heartedly recommend Blue Like Jazz to anyone who feels as if they are just floating through life and aren’t really making a difference. Donald Miller will not only change the way you live, but how you view the lives of others, and the importance of making your motions about helping them as well.
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