Most people know Tom as the director behind some of Hollywoods biggest comedy block busters like Ace Ventura, The Nutty Professor, LIar, Liar, Bruce Almighty and more. Two days ago he was talking about his new, non-fiction, documentary movie I AM on Oprah. What I heard him say moved me so much less than 24 hours later I'd driven to the closest movie theater showing I AM, down in Santa Cruz, because I couldn't wait to see it.
Tom was, by American standards, "living the dream." He was young, rich, successful, owned a private jet and was living in a 17,000 square foot mansion with people to manage everything from his career and finances to his swimming pool and tennis courts.
But in the midst of his success Tom realized that being financially rich didn't create or guarantee his happiness. Despite the picture our society paints that wealth equals happiness, the point is made in the movie that if you earn twice as much money it doesn't mean you'll be twice as happy. So true right? Sure there are happy rich people but there are also miserably unhappy, lonely and angry rich people.
His message isn't that money or being rich is bad. The distinction is made between having enough and when enough becomes too much so that acquiring more or holding onto excessive wealth can come at the cost of your happiness. It's about following your heart's authentic passion in life and by doing so is the only way we can live truly content and fulfilled lives regardless of our income levels.
the shift is about to hit the fan
In 2007, 13 years after Ace Ventura, Tom's life came to a screeching halt, literally, when he was in a cycling accident (him vs. gravity, not a car) and suffered post-concussion syndrome. The excruciating pain and side effects lasted for months and so impaired his quality of life that he wanted to die to escape the pain. He thought if he were to have any last words, what would they be? That was when he realized he had something to say. Something to share with the world. The slow growing epiphany that began the day he moved into his first mansion but didn't feel any happier had become a moment of clarity: His life was a lie. He wasn't living the way he was meant to. He had allowed his success to turn him into part of the group of people that he perceives are responsible for what is wrong with the world.
He sold his humongous mansion and moved into a 1000 square foot trailer. He got rid of the jet and now rides his bike to work. He's given away millions of dollars to others who he knows need them more than he does and most importantly, he took a four person film crew and set off to create a new and different kind of movie to create the opportunity for our country to have a new and different kind of conversation.
I AM is an exploration of two of the most important questions we can ask ourselves: What is wrong with the world and what can we, as individuals, do to make it better?
The three key concepts explored in the movie are:
1. It is scientifically proven that the entire human race is connected.
2. It is human nature to be cooperative rather than competitive.
3. If you don't do what your heart wants you to do and follow your passion, it will destroy you.
It's easy to blame the world's problems on large things like politics, the economy and other countries. And while it's true that these things often are the cause of our perceived problems, the reality is: What is wrong with the world boils down to the thought processes and actions of individuals and the trickle down effect of each person's existence. As long as we are comfortable blaming others and not examining our own actions to see if in fact we are also a large or minuscule part of the problem, the problems will not only persist, but through misplaced priorities, we can deny ourselves our own happiness without even realizing it.
He draws easy to follow analogies and explores the science of "connectedness," how (in a scientific not metaphysical way) our energy, the way we think and subconsciously output our emotions, can effect not only other people but all living organisms and even non-living things like computer algorithms, in the world around us. Suffice to say if you see the movie you'll never look at yogurt the same way again. LOL
The premise of the movie, and what I truly believe, is that, for better or worse, one person can make a difference. Living life with passion, compassion for others, embracing a spirit of cooperation and not allowing material things or money to ever matter more than people permeates almost every thing I do, every day. Caring shouldn't be a once year, once a month or once a week gesture or state of mind. Caring is something we can all strive to do 24/7.
Now I have to figure out where to buy a copy of Darwin's book "The Descent of Man" because the movie has made me incredibly curious to read it. I want to verify some things for myself. I hope it goes better than the time I was curious to read a book about quantum physics. That was totally over my head. LOL
In the meantime if you want to see I AM, cross your fingers and use the link below to see if it's playing near you:
In the SF Bay Area it's playing in:
Sacramento - Crest Theatre - May 6, 2011
San Rafael - Rafael Film Center - Now Playing
Santa Cruz - Nickelodeon - Now Playing • Leaving Soon
Santa Rosa - Summerfield Cinemas - Now Playing
Sonoma - Sebastiani Theatre - May 9, 2011
St. Helena - Cameo - Opens May 25, 2011
Saturn Cafe for lunch or dinner. It's a fun and retro styled vegetarian diner just minutes from the theater.
With beer battered, deep fried jalapenos, a slice of jack cheese and a spicy chipotle-buffalo sauce on a potato roll hamburger bun it's not super healthy, but it is super delicious! I think you'll love it!