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A Life Lesson of Giving: I AM

What we could learn from a man who had it all and then decided he didn’t need it.

I was sitting around trying to figure out what I was going to watch on TV for prime time. I came across a documentary that seemed a little interesting. It is called I AM (produced by Tom Shadyac). At first glimpse I thought it was gonna be pretty religious, however, it really wasn’t.

The story was about a man who had it all. He made tons of money and he lived in the perfect ZIP Code. Even had a private jet and one of the most expensive car is known to man. But then, something happened.

He had a brain trauma that resulted in a concussion (interesting article about the NFL) that would not go away. There are a few instances reported every year on these types of concussions. They are very specific and the worst part about it is that they won’t dissipate.

The typical victim suffering from this type of condition usually battle depression and can’t seem to shake it. Sad to say eventually many of these patients end up taking their own lives in suicide.

As the man who made the documentary discovered he had become depressed about his situation as well. He sought out many different types of therapies and tried different things out.

Even tried hyperbaric chambers. Unfortunately nothing fixed this problem. There was no therapy that enabled him to get a restart on life without the plaguing disease.

So, in a final attempt and since he was well know  movie-maker he wanted to leave one last message to the world. The message was about our own humanity and what we are caught in.

He tried to answer two questions. The first question was what is wrong with our world? And the second question was how do we fix it?

To answer the challenge of these questions he resorted to interviewing scholars, academics, psychologists, sociologists and more.

What he discovered as he explained it, was a powerful analogy. One of the people interviewed described a scenario in which all of us can identify.

He said suppose we were stranded outside in a snowstorm. Suppose that we happened across upon someone and they invited us in into a small home with the fireplace something to drink and a warm meal as well as clean clothes. Immediately we would go from unhappy to happy. The big fallacy in  our thinking is that more of what made us happy will make us happier. In other words if the house were bigger, if the fire were bigger, if the food were better then we would also be happier.

But the reality is that we are not any happier. In some tribes across the world people who decide that they want more and more and are not happy with what they have and feel that they need to hoard, it is considered a mental illness.

The documentary recommended considering what would happen if the tribe were to have brave warriors that went out every day hunted and killed and brought back food. (That is the standard.) However, what would happen if the same warriors decided that they did not want to share their spoils with the other members of the tribe? Well, some of the individuals in the tribe would become too weak to hunt and would not be able to sustain their lives because of a lack of nutrition.

Imagine that one of these warriors taught all of his children to do the same. At the end of the loop would be a group of people who had most of the wealth who were not willing to share with others. Basically the I am documentary is there to show us how sick our mentality is when it comes to sharing with others.

We have grown up in a culture that teaches us to be number one to win. But at the end of that there is nothing. Meanwhile other people who are not winning are not able to afford the most minimal things.

This shows that our society and culture is sick with a mental illness.

The author eventually sold his beautiful home and moved into a small unassuming place in a mobile home community.

He downsized and is now much more focused on connecting with others in recognizing that he won’t be here forever and that the most important thing is recognizing that we are all somehow connected.

It was a powerful documentary and it made me really think about my own goals and activities. I recognize now that although I may be focused on success, I must make sure that it doesn’t own me.

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