I’ve referenced a dad’s ubiquitous To-Do List in a previous post. There is a sequence in the film Goodfellas that so captures the dilemma of the American father that it cements Martin Scorsese’s place in the Pantheon of elite directors (see the uncensored clip here).
The scene features the protagonist, Henry Hill, preparing Sunday dinner for his family, dropping off a parcel of guns to his dissatisfied capo, preparing a shipment of cocaine for interstate transport and picking up his disabled brother from a medical facility — all while high on cocaine and paranoid as a result. It’s dizzying to listen to Henry’s narration as we watch him make stop after stop, encountering yet more complications along the way, which only ratchet up the pressure he feels to get it all done.
Though the great majority of responsible dads are not committing multiple felonies while under police surveillance, I think we all know Henry’s pain. Life can very quickly spiral out of control. This is why we must do what we can to keep things simple, which may be the most difficult task of all!
No matter what you do, you’re going to encounter a person who will take some issue with it. Depending on how dissatisfied your nemesis might be with their life, you are going to have a problem.
I think the best way to handle a person’s attempt to goad you into acting irresponsibly is to not react at all. Simply identify and accept the person’s irrational behavior for what it is and move on.
In my case, I transplanted from a harsh, urban environment to a suburban utopia. I spent the first 30 years of my life ducking punches, bullets, cops and prison. Now, I live in a neighborhood where the biggest concern is a disabled car left too long in a visitor’s parking lot. Could I possibly care about such a thing? Not really, but like Dorothy, I’m not in Kansas anymore. Instead, I find myself in Rome, and when in Rome…
Neighbors giving me a pain in the…neck about inconsequential stuff need to be addressed, but I know I have to keep it civil. My concern is raising two children with great promise in an environment where they can thrive. If I need to grin in the faces of a few would-be land barons to accomplish the greater goal, so be it.
Time was that nosy, mouthy, shifty neighbors suffered terrible fates in the South Bronx. My current world might be alien to me, but by the grace of God, so is my past.