Without proper exercise, nutrition and rest, the body slowly begins to break. You are operating at a perpetual deficit. You are always exhausted. You are seriously disengaged. Your body is now in survival mode. Your stories change. To rationalize how and why this happened requires that, at some fork in the road, smart people must become suddenly stupid; pragmatics, illogical; straight shooters. There are other, totally defensible stories that bring us to this overtaxed point of course – lots of responsibility, good intentions, aging, ambition, sudden change in circumstance – but they are almost never the whole of the story.
That is my family, Kay. It is not me. – Michael Corleone (Al Pacino)
You tell yourself things you cannot possibly believe. In an impoverished physical condition, how can you hope to live a good story? How can you hope to have the energy even to figure out what that story is?
Our physical state influences the stories we tell
Do you think the story you tell changes if one or more of the following conditions is true?
- You are tired or fatigued
- You have low blood sugar
- You have a headache
- You are ill
- You are in pain
Of course it does! When your physical story changes as by a sudden drop in blood sugar – then your whole story changes.
“The Godfather” is told entirely within a closed world. That’s why we sympathize with characters who are essentially evil. The story by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola is a brilliant conjuring act, inviting us to consider the Mafia entirely on its own terms. Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) emerges as a sympathetic and even admirable character; during the entire film, this lifelong professional criminal does nothing of which we can really disapprove.During the movie we see not a single actual civilian victim of organized crime. No women trapped into prostitution. No lives wrecked by gambling. No victims of theft, fraud or protection rackets. The only police officer with a significant speaking role is corrupt.
The story views the Mafia from the inside. That is its secret, its charm, its spell; in a way, it has shaped the public perception of the Mafia ever since. The real world is replaced by an authoritarian patriarchy where power and justice flow from the Godfather, and the only villains are traitors. There is one commandment, spoken by Michael (Al Pacino): “Don’t ever take sides against the family.” What is important is loyalty to the family. Much is said in the movie about trusting a man’s word, but honesty is nothing compared to loyalty. Michael doesn’t even trust Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) with the secret that he plans to murder the heads of the other families. The famous “baptism massacre” is tough, virtuoso filmmaking: The baptism provides him with an airtight alibi, and he becomes a godfather in both senses at the same time. Vito Corleone is the moral center of the film. He is old, wise and opposed to dealing in drugs. He understands that society is not alarmed by “liquor, gambling . . . even women.” But drugs are a dirty business to Don Vito, and one of the movie’s best scenes is the Mafia summit at which he argues his point. The implication is that in the godfather’s world there would be no drugs, only “victimless crimes,” and justice would be dispatched evenly and swiftly.
Many of us know that losing weight on a traditional diet is terribly difficult. One reason for this is that the story most people are telling themselves – lose weight and look better – is frankly not exactly a narrative for the ages. As a life goal for far too many people the objective of losing twenty or forty or even one hundred pounds simply to look better is just not compelling enough. Many who fail at losing weight that way have lost it when their motivation changes to something more urgent, powerful and transcendent – lose weight to be around for your grandchildren; lose weight so you will not be wheel-chair bound the last portion of your life; lose weight to improve your changes of making great journeys in world cities :). By finding motivation from a higher, passionate source or mission, you can affect your physical energy too.
The body we start out with is capable of wonderful things. But if we wish to achieve something truly extraordinary in our lives – be it athletic, intellectual, social, artistic, professional – we must build on this ‘standard – edition’ body and invest it with extraordinary energy.