The Art of Life is a truly inspirational documentary that celebrates the incomparable life and philosophy of Michael Behrens. As we follow along his journey, we get to witness a remarkable life lived outside the boundaries of traditional conventions. The film showcases Michael’s deep spiritual beliefs, as well as the integrity and reverence with which he lives his life.
Filmmakers Zaya and Maurizio first encountered Michael during their travels in Hawaii several years ago. At 72 years old at the time of filming in 2015, Michael had chosen to lead a unique lifestyle living off the grid on the island of Maui; enclosed in the lushness of a tropical jungle, he constructed himself a home from scratch, no easy feat considering he had to make his own road before even being able to arrive! In addition to having access to technology via solar power that enables him to keep in touch with fellow mathematicians around the world, he also has an impressive garden full of colorful plants where he can practice yoga or even go without clothes if so desired.
Michael’s brilliant mind was recognized early on when he started noticing patterns others couldn’t see at only 14 years old. He went on to study at Standford and MIT before deciding it was time for him to take a break and travel, leading him all the way to Hawaii where he has been living ever since. Without any need for material wealth or success, Michael is content with leading an unstructured but meaningful existence surrounded by nature and its creatures alike: dolphins accompany him during his swims off Maui’s coasts while wild animals have come (quite literally) close enough for them both find solace in one another’s companionship.
Although seemingly independent from society, Michael is deeply expressed through his commitment to mathematics – albeit still understanding that it might bring people further away from spirituality rather than closer – amalgamating abstract constructions with religion into a harmonious balance that allows him live peacefully and gratefully every day. In his words: “There are two strains of spirituality. One of them is loving everything beautiful and positive. But the other is in transcending that and seeing everything as beautiful and positive”.
The Art of Life provides us with an opportunity like no other: it gives us access into this incredible man’s life story, allowing us an insight into how one can craft their own journey regardless of what society dictates as right or wrong – ultimately showing us just how powerful inner peace can be when embraced wholeheartedly. It truly is worth watching!