The Fox Factor

Over the weekend, I re-read Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, Michael J. Fox’s most recent book. What struck me yet again, as I neared the end, was the notion that nowhere on these pages does Michael, despite the vagaries of Parkinson’s, ever display an iota of self-pity. On the contrary, with self-deprecating humor, outright expressions of love for his wife and children, and oodles of self-reflection, he acknowledges the hurdles always in light of the amazing gifts and sense of re-discovery that has accompanied him on this journey.

The truth is that I’d picked up the book again because there was this one line I’d recalled reading and paraphrasing to others on numerous occasions since my first reading of the book. It obviously left an indelible impression, but I wanted to reassure myself that I wasn’t misquoting Michael. So I sailed through the book a second time, this time with an eye ready to catch that one line that, at least in my estimation, elevated him from mere celebrity and author to bona fide optimist.

And there it was, expressed in words not entirely dissimilar from those I’ve used when I speak about living with pain: The only unavailable choice was whether or not to have Parkinson’s. Everything else was up to me.

And so it is: Though I have faith in its eventual disappearance (dare I say: demise?!), I have no choice about still waking up to pain every day. But, whether it’s because I’ve trained my brain; or because I speak and breathe to ease my discomfort; or because I choose not to let it take control of my entire daily existence, heck, I’m all with Michael J. Fox: it’s part of the adventure & the rest is all up to me.

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