“I remember driving down I-45 a few months ago and suddenly realizing the number of signs that were screaming at me, signs wanting me to buy waterbeds, signs wanting me to watch girls take off their clothes, signs wanting me to eat Mexican food, to eat barbaque, backlit, scrolling signs wanting me to come to church, to join this gym, to see this movie, to finance a car, even if I have no money. And it hit me that, amid the screaming noise, amid the messages that said buy this product and I will be made complete, I could hardly know the life that was meant to be. Houston makes you feel that life is about the panic and the resolution of the panic, and nothing more. Nobody stops to question whether they actually need the house and the car and the better job. And because of this there doesn’t seem to be any peace; there isn’t any serenity. We can’t see the stars in Houston anymore, we can’t go to the beach without stepping on a Coke bottle, we can’t hike in the woods, because there aren’t any more woods. We can only panic about the clothes we wear, panic about the car we drive, sit stuck in traffic and panic about whether or not the guy who cut us off respects us. We want to kill him, for crying out loud, and all the while we feel a need for new furniture and a new television and a bigger house in the right neighborhood. We drive around in a trance, salivating for Starbucks while that great heaven sits above us, and that beautiful sunrise is happening in the desert, and all those mountains out West are collecting snow on the limbs of their pins, and all those leaves are changing colors out East. God, it is so beautiful, it is so quiet, it is so perfect. It makes you feel, perhaps for a second, that Paul gets it and we don’t — that if you live in a van and get up for sunrise and cook your own food on a fire and stop caring about whether your car breaks down or whether you have fashionable clothes or whether or not people do or do not like you, that you have broken through, that you have shut your ear to the bombardment of lies that never, ever stop whispering in your ear. And maybe this is why he seems so different to me, because he has become a human who no longer believes the commercials are true, which, perhaps is what a human was designed to be.
It makes sense, if you think about it. I mean we stood out in the desert this morning, and the chemicals in my brain poured soothingly through the gray matter, as if to massage with fingers the most tender part of my mind, as if to say, this is what a human is supposed to feel. This is what we were made for, to watch the beauty of light fill up earth’s canvas, to make dirt come alive; like fairy dust making trees and cacti and humans from the magic of it’s propulsion. It makes me wonder, now, how easily the brain can be tricked by somebody who has a used car to sell, a new perfume, whatever. ‘You will feel what you were made to feel if you buy this thing I am selling.’ But could the thing you and I were supposed to feel, the thing you and I were supposed to be, cost nothing? Paul seems to think so, or at least he acts as if this is true. He doesn’t want to stay in a hotel room and catch up on the news. He doesn’t want to rifle through the sports page and make sure the team he has associated his ego with is doing well. I don’t think he is trying to win anything at all. I just think he is trying to feel what a human is supposed to feel when he stops believing lies. And maybe when a person doesn’t buy the lies anymore, when a human stops long enough to realize the stuff people say to get us to part with our money often isn’t true, we can finally see the sunrise, smell the wetness in a Gulf breeze, stand in awe at a downpour no less magnificent than a twenty-thousand-foot waterfall, ten square miles wide, wonder at the physics of a duck paddling itself across the surface of a pond, enjoy the reflection of the sun on the face of the moon, and know, ‘This is what I was made to do. This is who I was made to be,’ that life is being given to me as a gift, that light is a metaphor, and God is doing these things to dazzle us.”- donald miller