Friday, November 7, 2014

Life is Like "Let's Make A Deal"

This column originally appear3ed in The Sun Chronicle on Friday, November 7, 2014
By Bill Gouveia


            As I get older and inch closer to my sixth decade of life, I have come to a relatively simple yet still startling revelation:


            Life is pretty much a series of episodes of the old television game show, Let’s Make a Deal.


            Like most of us, I wasn’t worried about the aging process during my younger and more foolish days.  I mean, I wasn’t exactly a “wild and crazy guy” in the old Saturday Night Live image (could I possibly date myself any earlier into a column?).  But neither was I any type of “health nut”, devoted to a lifestyle that would ensure me a long and fruitful existence.


            I weighed 120 pounds when I graduated from high school.  I’m just a little bit over that now, some 40 years later.  Well, maybe a lot over that.  Okay, so I’m double that and have shrunk about an inch – you wanna make something of it?


            I didn’t get this way overnight.  It was a long and selfish road that led me to this spot where I currently waddle.  It took a lot of fatty foods and Coke (the beverage, not the other stuff) to get to this point.  And it wasn’t because I didn’t know any better.  I knew the job was dangerous, but I kept taking it.


            Many of us are willing to sacrifice our longevity for short-term pleasure and enjoyment – at least when we are younger.  As we get older, we want to start making a deal.


            We start worrying about ourselves, and rightly so.  Some eat less, eat better, exercise more, and generally take better care of their bodies.  They go to bed earlier and get more rest.  In return for these acts, they ask the higher powers we hope control these things to recognize their belated efforts and reward them with a longer and healthier time on this planet.


            “Okay, if I give up butter and go to margarine, you give me an extra three years.  I change to Diet Coke, I get another 18 months.  And passing on salt should definitely mean an extra five years,” you reason with the forces that control the universe.


            But in the end, we have to make choices.  Just like in the aforementioned game show, we are unsure what is actually behind doors number one, two and three.  There are no sure things.


            Then we get shown what is hidden behind one door, and have to decide if we are willing to settle for that.  Our heads tell us it might be the best possible deal, but our hearts urge us to try and get something better.  Go ahead – eat that bowl of ice cream every night.  It’s got to be worth the risk, right?


            When the second door swings open, we are often pleasantly surprised.  We got this far without paying an overly high price, and it’s not so bad.  Of course we aren’t going to settle for this.  We both want and need more.  And what the heck – we’ve gotten by so far, haven’t we?


            That is where I am now, and it won’t be long before Door Number Three swings open and reveals what the road to the final prize will look like.  Now the bargaining starts for real, because the stakes seem much higher looking forward.


            “Listen, I’ll do better,” you reason with the disembodied voices in your head.  “I’ll actually go to the gym once in a while.  I’ll get that physical I’ve been putting off.  I’ll even stop taking my diabetes pill with a Coke every night,” you add, throwing in what could be the clincher.


            But I realize I decided a while ago not to take the deal – at least, not fully.  I’m not saying that’s the smart move, and I’m not suggesting anyone else do the same.  I’m just saying it’s the choice I’ve made.


            I know when I’m 70 and facing various issues, I’ll probably be sorry.  I’ll be regretting my short-sightedness.  I’ll be thinking I should have sacrificed more for the longer view.  I might be wishing I had done it differently, and start trying to make a deal.


            But I have certainly enjoyed getting to this point.  And maybe – just maybe – there’s a treat behind Door Number Three. 


Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

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