An old acquaintance has a phrase he unleashes to explain the peculiarities of our minds and lives and attitudes: "I’m not much," he’ll say through a self-deprecating grin, "but I’m all I think about."
It’s perfectly true and yet not, right? We think about our children and our parents, the state of the economy and our new puppy and the victims of the latest natural disaster.
We instinctively experience the world as a movie about our own lives, I think, with our heads as the camera. We are the only ones central to every important scene. The needs and joys and sorrows we feel most strongly are our own.
Others are supporting actors in the saga, or guest stars. They have a place in the tale, but the story is about us.
And even our concerns about those parents and children and puppies are largely self-centered: If my mother does not recover, I will be bereft. If my child is endangered, I will be terrified.
If the puppy does not stop crying and chewing and wetting, I will be insane.
But there is a chasm between feeling that the world is a movie about one’s life, which is natural, and acting like it, which is indefensible.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo acted like the world was a movie about his own life, in the way he so carelessly disregarded the feelings of the women he is accused of sexually harassing. And he's doing so again in his response to the case against him, scorching the state he promised to care for and successfully led for a decade.
I didn't want to write today about the now-substantiated accusations against Cuomo that he sexually harassed 11 women.
The extraordinary irony of Long Islanders protesting curricula that teach about systemic racism at school board meetings of districts whose border lines, hiring practices and student body compositions historically and inherently and currently exclude minorities is a much better topic.
So, too, is this idea: What would our society be like if, before we undertook any action we asked ourselves, "Is it heroic?"
And at some point we have to figure out whether President Joe Biden's spending spree is going to lead to hyperinflation, and if so, what to do about it.
Having our elected officials obsessing over Cuomo and the impending impeachment isn't a great use of their time and energy, or useful, either. This state has the highest taxes and the most difficult business climate in the nation. It faces extraordinary fiscal and environmental challenges, and too many New Yorkers are left behind by subpar educations and stagnant systems.
Our elected officials should be pushing vaccinations, working on pandemic recovery, repaving roads, improving schools, sewering homes, cleaning bays, fighting addiction and helping those least among us.
But the only way we can set our attention to doing all those things, the only way we’re going to be able to turn our eyes away from Cuomo’s troubles, is if he lets the movie be about us.
About the people of New York.
Cuomo, whose domineering personality and outsized desire to control made him, in many ways, a very fine governor, now must do something out of character: put his own desires last, and provide us with an ending that’s sad and quick, but not disastrous and drawn out.
The star of any movie ought to know when it's time to roll the credits.
Columnist Lane Filler's opinions are his own.