Just about everything today comes with an operating manual—from your computer to your car, from your cell phone to your iPad. Is it possible that Life comes with an operating manual as well? That’s the simple but powerful premise of Tom Shadyac’s inspiring and provocative first book. Written as a series of essays and dialogues, we are invited into a conversation that is both challenging and empowering. The question now is, can we discern what is written inside this operating manual and garner the courage to live in accordance with its precepts?
In June of 1998, after wrapping Liar, Liar, Jim Carrey and I decided to head to Alaska to breathe some clean air and revel in nature’s beauty. A few days into our adventure, we were flying high over the Chugach Mountains when our bush pilot received radio instructions that he needed to deliver gasoline to 20 hikers stranded on a nearby glacier. That’s when the idea hit me: “Hey, Jim. Why don’t you make the delivery?” It wasn’t long before we landed near the hikers. Jim got out and, with gas can in hand, walked toward the unsuspecting group. He then held the red can high and in Ace Ventura’s voice announced, “Hi, I’m Jim Carrey! I heard you needed some gas!” I’ll never forget those 20 hikers’ mouths opening wide in utter disbelief. Jim set the can down, then added: “Tom Cruise will be by later with some trail mix!”
As I write this, I feel a bit like I’m Jim and you, perhaps, are the unsuspecting hikers: I’m the last person you might expect to deliver a message about fixing a world gone wrong. I am, after all, in the eyes of that world, just a comedy director—Ace Ventura; The Nutty Professor; Liar, Liar; Patch Adams; Bruce Almighty; Evan Almighty—which makes me an unlikely source for the content of this book. So unlikely, it took a near-death experience to give me the courage to share my story, first in the documentary I AM and now here.