Lori Welbourne, On a Brighter Note
Giving up a luxurious mansion to live in a practical mobile home isn’t something most people dream of doing once they hit the big time, but that’s exactly what Hollywood director Tom Shadyac did in his quest to find happiness.
The man behind such blockbuster comedies as Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty and Liar Liar, his movies have made billions of dollars and he’s earned a personal fortune while directing them. But I didn’t even learn of this man until I saw him being interviewed on the Oprah Winfrey show after he parted with most of his possessions and made a relatively low budget documentary called “I Am.”
After facing death from a biking accident in 2007, he started a spiritual exploration to figure out who he really was and discovered that he was living a lie with the extravagant lifestyle he had worked so hard to achieve. Realizing that mansions, private jets and fancy cars weren’t making him feel more fulfilled, he went on a personal journey to find happiness which he documented on film. “I Am” tackles two very big questions: “What’s wrong with the world?” and “What can we do about it?”
The film not only explores his personal journey, but also the nature of humanity and our ever-growing addiction to materialism. It presents the human race as inherently cooperative rather than competitive, wanting a democracy rather than a kingdom, and uncovers how off-track we have become in comparison to our teachers.
“Nothing in nature takes more than it needs,” he said. “A redwood doesn’t take all the nutrients from the soil, it only takes what it needs. A lion doesn’t kill all the gazelles, only one.” But in our society we have been conditioned to take more than we need and all that we can.
“We have a term for something in the human body when it takes more than its share,” he said. “We call it cancer.”
Not wanting to be part of the sickness but part of the cure, he’s now on a crusade to start conversations about this subject and entice people to look at their lives and explore their authentic selves, discovering what will truly make them happy. With culture, church and family influencing our opinions about our wants and needs, we are often getting it wrong, like he did. But there’s nothing stopping us from becoming the author of our own life if we aren’t already.
“I Am” explores three key concepts that he’s hoping people will think about in their own journeys for happiness: that the entire human race is connected; that we are hard-wired to be cooperative and live in unity; and that if you don’t do what your heart wants you to do, it can destroy you.
With the documentary in limited release it hasn’t played at any of the theatres in Kelowna, so I haven’t even seen it yet. But I put in my request with the movie theatres and encourage you to do the same if you’d like to see it and haven’t had the opportunity. I have a feeling this will be my favorite Tom Shadyac film by far.