A few months ago Jim Carrey had this bizarre interview where he explains his firm belief that Jim Carrey does not exist. It sounds weird, and from a funny guy like Jim Carrey you’d think he was making some joke, but he’s completely serious. He believes that no one exists, and the idea of ‘self’ is just a deception.
You can read it yourself, it’s pretty out there. But to be honest, what’s really striking about this interview is not what Carrey believes, but why he believes it. The interviewer asks, what prompted these awakenings, what led to you believe these strange ideas? Carrey’s answer is profound:
I guess just getting to the place where you have everything everybody has ever desired and realizing you are still unhappy. And that you can still be unhappy is a shock when you have accomplished everything you ever dreamt of and more and then you realize, “My gosh, it’s not about this.” And I wish for everyone to be able to accomplish those things so they can see that.
So Jim Carrey was unhappy. But it is more than that. It’s that he had accomplished everything he ever dreamt of and more, and then still found himself unhappy. He’s tapping into something really important here.
You see, almost everyone experiences unhappiness or a lack of contentment, a void we feel in our life. But for most people there is something we think will fill that void. There’s something we look forward to that we hope to achieve or attain, and we think that once we get that thing, it would make us happy. We would finally be content.
It would fill the void.
But Jim Carrey knows that feeling is a lie. He knows it from experience. He is one of those rare people who have been so successful, and achieved so much – and by doing so has discovered that none of these things will satisfy.
We’re like the proverbial dog that chases the fire truck, and when we finally catch it, we’ve got no idea what to do with it. Jim Carrey caught the truck, and he knows it doesn’t deliver. But unless we learn from him, we will spend our whole lives chasing.
Searching For What Satisfies
Of course, Jim Carrey isn’t alone in this. Michael Jordan was interviewed a few years ago for his 50th birthday. Now Michael Jordan is a man who has achieved it all. He had sporting success, fame, wealth, you name it. But he was deeply unhappy.
He had achieved everything a person could hope to achieve (and more!) and yet he found at the end of the golden road that he was still unsatisfied. And he didn’t know where to turn to fill that void. And this realisation isn’t a new one. Three thousands years ago, King Solomon had wealth, wisdom, pleasure, achievement, and in the end said they were all meaningless and empty (Ecclesiastes 2:9-11).
The reality that Michael Jordan and Jim Carrey and many other highly successful people have discovered is there is nothing in this world that satisfies. It’s easy for nobodies like you and me to convince ourselves otherwise (‘If I could just have…’), but for those who ‘have it all’, the mirage vanishes and leaves them empty.
Jim Carrey realised that there is nothing in this world that satisfies, and his explanation for this phenomenon was some pretty bizarre stuff about the non-existence of the self.
But what if the explanation is a lot more simple? I think C.S. Lewis was much closer to the mark: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
All of us are searching for what satisfies. But if we’re looking for it in the things of this world – whether that be possessions, experiences, memories, relationships, or anything else – we’re going to come up empty-handed.
So where else can we look?
Well, Jesus invites us to come to him to find true rest and satisfaction (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus said he came so that we could have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10). And in Isaiah 55:1-2, God Himself warns us not to waste our lives chasing what doesn’t satisfy, but to come to Him instead: “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”
It’s only in Jesus that we find what truly satisfies.