On Saturday night Dave and I got together with his moms. His mom had been talking about this movie, The Shift, for awhile. Dave and I were both skeptical about it because most of the modern spiritual-type movies that we’ve seen have been extremely cheesy. They tend to be pretty lackluster adaptations of the books that they’re based on (The Way of the Peaceful Warrior is one example), or feature bad acting or poor navigation of budgetary restrictions. We were pleasantly surprised by The Shift.
The Shift is a movie shaped around the teaching of Dr. Wayne Dyer. Dyer is a prodigious author and speaker known for motivating people to find their purpose. He is also known as a sort of spiritual guru; though he’s really more humanist than anything else. He’s not really into religion, but he is heavily into Taoism.
Basically the film is a series of interviews with Dyer, wrapped into three adjacent plot lines that show people hitting a point where they realize that what they have been doing with their lives isn’t really working for them anymore. The interviews are part of the plot. The theme of the movie is reaching middle age and getting to a place where you are less concerned with the egotistical pursuits of youth, and more concerned with living a life with purpose. “The shift” is the transition from one type of lifestyle to another.
Dyer suggests that to find fulfillment in life, one should practice active non-action; like the Taoist principle of wu-wei. If we just let go of our egotistical pursuits (hoarding material items, trying to impress people) and understand that we already have everything we need within our beings, it can open us up for greater awareness and creativity, from which we can draw purpose. Our actions will become effortless when we stop pushing so hard, and so will our successes. I liked that in The Shift, there is one character who acts as a skeptic, and presses Dyer to address some of the arguments against active non-action. It helps to further illuminate the point that Dyer is trying to make.
Apparently the crisis that causes “the shift” is more common to what Dyer dubs “the afternoon of our lives;” so that is the audience he addresses. However, I thought that the main principles that he discusses can easily be applied to anyone. Overall, I was really impressed with the movie. The plot was feasible, the actors were decent, and the filming was good. It was filmed at a resort on the northern coast of California, so there is also plenty of eye-candy in it.
It reminded me about the kinship between Taoism and my own beliefs; particularly related to my recent pursuit of simplicity. I’ve been inspired to pick up the Tao Te Ching again (as well as The Third Jesus, which I think is pretty fantastic). It feels good to be deliberately tapping back into the spiritual side of letting go of excess and to be reminded of the source of inspiration (God, chi, universal energy; whatever you might call it!).