a piece of paper with a wooden handle on top of it



I have an admittedly love-hate relationship with the author Donald Miller. On one hand, I love him because he was one of the key sources of inspiration for my own writing/published books. On the other, I’ve grown to really loathe his writing style as I’ve gotten older and have realized it’s ok to be critical of a published author.

My biggest complaint with his writing style is that he writes in a narrative that reads as if he victimizes himself, or doubts his own intelligence. “He looked like a man that drank juice made with fruit” is still one of my least favorite lines in literary history…

Don did publish some incredible pieces and concepts. Most notably, his book ‘Storybrand’ which is a marketing book that breaks down the ‘heroes journey’ concept as a fundamental principal in marketing.

E.g. Instead of telling your audience that you make the best cars on the planet, tell them that they’re going to feel like a celebrity when they show up to their family thanksgiving driving the car you manufactured for them. It puts the customer first, and in the pilot seat of your business – rather than feeling like an outsider.

I think that all of us follow some sort of heroes journey in our lives, and it becomes more evident when you look at your life in the rearview mirror.

There are a lot of people I’ve drawn inspiration from as I’ve grown older. Some people, I viewed as examples that I wanted to be like. Others, I saw as examples I wanted nothing to be like. There’s a little bit of me in both camps, which I’ve also realized as I’ve gotten older…

Over a decade ago, I watched ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ and it really made an impact on my life. I will never forget the scene at the end of the movie, where his daughter opens letters Benjamin (her Dad) wrote her. As she reads the letters, the camera shows Benjamin through various parts of the world, performing different occupations and witnessing a life that very few will ever see with their own eyes.

For over a decade, I get a weekly notification to watch that particular scene from the movie. Now that I’m in my 30’s, I look at the clip and realize that my own life has followed a very similar path as the main character of the movie, and it brings me a lot of joy to realize that.

My 20’s and early 30’s were spent living much like Benjamin. I traveled the world, met people with a different point of view, started over – and over, and over, and over… – and lived life as if there were no rules to it. I broke bread with billionaires and bums on the street alike, slept in huts in the jungle, explored the top and bottom rungs of major cities and off-the-grid villages. It was an incredible few chapters of life.

Since becoming a Dad, I think a lot differently about life and the things that compose a great one. I used to think that having heaps of money would fulfill me, but no amount of money compares to the satisfaction you feel when you spend time with your child.

I used to think that having the respect of others would make me feel like I mattered. Then, I discovered the joy that raptures me when I see Atlas running up to give me a hug, or when we stay up late and tell stories with a flashlight.

The journey as a parent is full of these little moments, and they all add up to fill your heart with more richness than I know how to describe. Recently, I made a parfait for Atlas. At first, he didn’t want to eat it – then, I showed him the ‘parfait scene’ from the movie Shrek. When he stopped laughing, he devoured the parfait and said “Parfaits are delicious!”

I remember seeing Shrek at the movie theater. I saw it with my Dad, and we had a special day together when we saw it. I was able to relive some of those memories, now as a Dad, by watching that scene with Atlas, as well as showing him the end scene, where Donkey sings “I’m a believer”.

I can’t explain what it feels like to have these sort of memories/moments with Atlas. It’s like having the best time of your life, only to experience it again and it’s even better the second time around.

That evening, as I was putting Atlas to bed, he said “Dad, Donkey!” And excitedly ripped the covers off. Normally, I’d do my best to tuck him back in, but I was curious what he was going to do, so I watched.

Standing on the bed, he blurted out “I bu-bu-bu-bu-bu-bu” and did his best to dance like Donkey during the closing song; kicking one leg out in front of him.

I haven’t laughed so hard in ages. It was a moment I wish I could have captured with a camera, while knowing full-well that moments like that aren’t meant to be. Instead, they’re meant to be kept in your heart.

In my 20’s, I wanted to be wealthy. Now, I realize that the best things in life aren’t the things that money can buy – they’re the things that never leave your heart, soul or mind. They’re experiences that defy the expected, memories that can never be repeated and time spent doing things with the people you hold in your heart – eternally.

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