Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Godfather & the importance of health to happiness. Or not

(517 words)

It is my understanding that in some convalescent settings, many of the faithful turn to prayer.

Me, I turned to Hyman Roth.

Roth was the wise Jewish gangster (modeled after Meyer Lansky) who in “Godfather II” memorably counsels young Michael Corleone on relationships, trust and how dessert cake can be used to demonstrate equality in Third World plunder distribution.

And, an enfeebled old man, Roth expounds on the benefits of good health.

“Good health is the most important thing,” he says gravely. “More than success, more than money, more than power.”

Right now, you could argue I’m oh-fer-4 on the Roth rankings.

I have little success, no money and so little power that if the stupid dog ever communicates he’d rather watch “The View” than baseball the girls will insist I forfeit the remote.

Health-wise I’m actually doing pretty good. Eight days out of surgery and still mostly homebound, the podiatrist says I ought to be traversing the 77 steps between my office and favorite Tin Lizzy barstool in 10 days.

As for the Parkinson’s, all the experts say I’m doing great. This is perfect because my plan all along is to appear symptom-free for so long all my friends begin to suspect I fabricated the diagnosis just because I crave attention.

I looked up the Roth quote to ensure precision. I wanted to understand his life priorities. They are: health, success, money and power.

If I were advising the young gangster, I’d in order list family, friends and either memories of happy times or hallucinations of happy times.

I love bein’ human, and I love human bein’s.

Unlike Roth, I take good health right off the table. Our lives are so fleeting and finite that emphasizing good health and longevity is like stressing the importance of winning the lottery.

Sure, it’s great to have in your pocket but acquiring it is largely beyond our cunning. We’re all one distracted driver from a pulse-racing helicopter ride to an urban trauma center.

My priorities, if properly pursued, will lead to scores of loved ones crowding around our death beds and — one hopes — a tidy grave drenched with appreciative tears rather than — one hopes — warm urine.

I wish I could have (for a small fee) stressed to Roth the importance of close friendships. His disregard for them wound up — spoiler alert! — getting himself  killed. 

I sense no one is right now out to kill me and that includes Val and my daughters who’ve been patient and pleasant with my needs as I gingerly seek a return to full mobility.

I don’t count my blessings. I lose count of my blessings.

The gratitude attitude never caught up to Roth. He spent his life in pursuit of illusory goals that required, literally, back stabbing and cut throats.

So men like Roth never gain an appreciation for the things that mean more to life than even stellar health.

But to paraphrase Roth’s most famous quote, “That was the business he chose.”

I’m glad it’s none of my business. 

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