My husband told me about this documentary by Tom Shadyac, I Am,thinking I would like it. And I think I would, but I must admit that the idea of a Hollywood millionaire preaching about how we need to simplify our lives to find happiness smacks of self-congratulatory hypocrisy.
My first question to this premise was “What did Shadyac do with his millions?” I looked up his net worth: 5 million dollars. It’s easy to, if not be happy, at least live a less stress-filled life with 5 million dollars in the bank. Yes, he moved to a mobile home, but I doubt he is experiencing the typical mobile home experience I see living in rural upstate NY. Does his roof leak? Does he do without heat part of the winter because he can’t afford to fill his propane tank or oil tank? These are the experiences of the mobile home dwellers in my part of the country. They don’t have time to ponder the Biq Questions. That are trying to survive. Literally.
I think Shadyac probably doesn’t know anyone like this. Understandable. Neither do my parents. They live in the Land of Relative Comfort, where everyone they know can pay their bills and can afford to go out for a $250 dinner every month. I imagine Shadyac’s experience is even more foreign to living poor than my family’s is. I have an idea. Let’s stick him in a freezing trailer for a month, with a roof that leaks with every thaw, with some health issues and no health insurance, and talk about how to attain Enlightenment. I’m curious to see what he comes up with.
So while I am in agreement with his premise, I think he needs to shade it. Yes, as long as your basic needs are met, happiness is about something else entirely. I live that and breathe that. But I have a roof over my head, and food on my table. Would I be happy if I had neither? I wouldn’t even have the luxury of contemplating that question. And really, neither should he.