Movie Night: I Am

Cue the tissues. This thought-provoking, inspirational documentary – from the director who also brought us, yes, “Ace Ventura” – is sure to serve as a wake-up call. Tom Shadyac, a Hollywood icon, compiles footage from his worldwide journey where he interviewed the most respected philosophers, professors, scientists, teachers, and other experts to figure out exactly:

What is wrong with the world?

&

How can we fix it?

Lured into a lifestyle of wealth and fame, Shadyac at one point owned several mansions, flew in private jets, parked multiple luxury cars in his driveways, and still wanted more. To his credit, he was making money doing something he was passionate about and providing a service to others, though an arguably superficial one. He also recalls at one point, in the midst of buying all of his “stuff,” noticing that he didn’t necessarily feel happier. This notion was challenged to the extreme when Shadyac suffered a mountain biking injury that left him with, what doctors thought were, permanent concussion symptoms. With the headaches, dizziness, and light sensitivity, came a deep depression. While many who suffer similar symptoms become suicidal, Shadyac had a different mentality. He felt himself slipping away, and that given his condition, an early death was inevitable. Once he made peace with his fate, his thoughts turned optimistic. If this was the end, what did he want before he was gone? So he embarked on the mission that turned into “I Am: the Documentary.”

I’ll let you enjoy it without interjecting too much, but on the surface, it’s very similar, though more intense, to the “Story of Stuff.” The film discusses consumerism and the competitive market that governs our lives, all based on the belief that more things equals more satisfaction. The documentary delves deeper into this faulty idea, suggesting that science – merely a story, though believed to be the ultimate truth – has instilled a universal ideology that life is about progress and competition. Especially in societies like the United States, humans operate around winning, whatever that means on an individual level. The winners are celebrated and encouraged to go one step further, push the limits, continue to succeed. But in order for there to be a triumph, there inevitably has to be a loser, so not everyone can win. This is the basis of the world’s problems. Maintaining this balance, though thought to be the building blocks of human nature, is exactly what is destroying this world. But this is only one mainstream way of living. History, a greater truth than science because it doesn’t change, teaches us that there is a way to live life with the sole mission of attaining happiness, and that this goal can be met universally.

Find out how one “funny man” found it within himself to find true happiness.

Allison Beauregard

Allison is a New York City based writer with a focus on sustainability. Her work demonstrates how it is possible to have the “things” that make us happy without compromising the resources that provide these goods. With this vision, Allison sees a future where environmental degradation is reversed and the quality of human life is equally distributed. She is the Category Editor of The Franklin Report and was among the top 5 contributors for Elephant Journal in October 2014.

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