Coincidence was all around me on Friday, December 11th, 2009. I woke up totally excited about how the day was going to unfold. My enthusiasm was due to the fact that I was about to hit the road and drive to my brother's house in New Jersey. Chris turned 30 that day... and I figure that was only going to happen once. Surprising him at his front door seemed like the right thing to do. As a father of 2 young boys, I don't get to do leave for a night very often, but in this case, Erin really encouraged me to make the trip.
I also felt like there was something more significant than the trip. There was something about this nearly spontaneous decision to take on the open road that was inspiring me. It might have been the left over joy I felt from the hugs I got from Erin and the boys before I left or that I sense life change in the near future. But mostly, I was excited to see the next scene of my life story take place... a chance to see a band that my brother and I haven't seen together since 1997. Switchfoot was playing at the TLA in Philadelphia and we had tickets... only Chris didn't know that I had one as well.
Switchfoot always inspires me. Their music is the poetry of hope that I need to hear when I feel like my heart is in a rut. Just list the titles of their songs and I start to feel inspired: "Meant to Live", "This is Your Life", "Dare You To Move", "Awakening" and so many more. On the drive down to see my brother, I promised myself that I would sing the words of these songs until my voice was sore. It felt like the thing the 1997 version of myself would do.
I was excited about one other thing on this trip. I haven't been doing much reading over the past several months and this trip was going to include 10 hours of drive time. So, I signed up for Audible, the audio book service that allows you to download a book and listen to it on an MP3 player or phone. I decided to listen to: "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller. The poignant question posed at the beginning of the book is this: "Why would you want a Volvo or anything of perceived value if you wouldn't be interested in watching a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo?" To put it another way, the elements that make up a story for a great movie are the same elements that make up a great life.
I was seriously challenged by this premise. I mean, I've always known that real value in life is generated by the relationships we cultivate and not the things we accumulate. But I never thought of putting life in the context of a good story. I love a flawed character, vibrant scenes, the challenge of the antagonist and so many of the other components of a great story. I just never thought of those elements of story being important to my life.
And in that moment, somewhere on I-84 in Connecticut, I realized the coincidences all around me. The book, the band, the trip, and my relationship with my brother. I was about to play out a major scene in the story of my life... the kind of musical montage that sums up my relationship with my brother. Just picture us walking on South St. in downtown Philadelphia, eating a Cheese Steak and having a drink all while the sounds of Switchfoot played in our heads... "This is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be?"