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Volume 98, Number 1


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Community: Living with Freaks

An excerpt from Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

I liked them all very much, but we had hard times. I was a serious recluse before I moved in with the guys at Graceland. When you live on your own for years, you begin to think the world belongs to you. You begin to think all space is your space and all time is your time. . . .

Tuck was one of my best friends when he moved in. He is still one of my best friends, but for a while I wanted to kill him. He did not understand that life was a movie about me. Nobody ever told him. He would knock on my door while I was reading, come in and sit down in a chair opposite me, and then he would want to talk, he would want to hear about my day. I couldn’t believe it. The audacity to come into my room, my soundstage, and interrupt the obvious flow of the story with questions about how I am.

Andrea Britton '09“When he writes, Donald Miller articulates thoughts that have always existed in the back of my mind, but seemed too personal to share. His reflections about ‘living with freaks’ are so relevant to the life of a college student, and have really broadened my perspective of the Messiah buzzword ‘community.’”

             —Andrea Britton ’09

I would give Tuck little signals that I didn’t want to talk like eye rolls or short answers to his questions. I would stare into space so he thought I was crazy or snore so he would think I had fallen asleep. I think I hurt his feelings. He would get very frustrated with me, go upstairs, and wonder why I was acting that way. He only did this a few times before he dismissed me as a jerk. I almost lost the friendship, to be honest. . . .

Living in community made me realize one of my faults: I was addicted to myself. All I thought about was myself. The only thing I really cared about was myself. I had very little concept of love, altruism, or sacrifice. I discovered that my mind is like a radio that picks up only one station, the one that plays me: K-DON, all Don, all the time. . . .

Having had my way for so long I became defensive about what I perceived as encroachments on my rights. My personal bubble was huge. I couldn’t have conversations that lasted more than ten minutes. I wanted efficiency in personal interaction, and while listening to one of my housemates talk, I wondered why they couldn’t get to the point. What are you trying to tell me? I would think. Do we really have to stand here and make small talk?

• • •

The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: Life is a story about me. God brought me to Graceland to rid me of this deception, to scrub it out of the gray matter of my mind. It was a frustrating and painful experience.

I hear addicts talk about the shakes and panic attacks and the highs and lows of resisting their habit, and to some degree I understand them because I have had habits of my own, but no drug is so powerful as the drug of self. No rut in the mind is so deep as the one that says I am the world, the world belongs to me, all people are characters in my play. There is no addiction so powerful as self-addiction.

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