Monday, April 26, 2021

No Time Like The Future: Michael J. Fox Considers Mortality, Optimistically

My dad passed away three years ago from a variety afflictions — dude was on his sixth (!!!) cancer, the last one of which is what ultimately got him. But he also had rare skin disease, had recently broken his hip for the second time, and had battled Parkinson's disease for more than 30 years. My brothers and sisters and I joked (I guess somewhat morbidly) that it's a good thing he wasn't around for Covid, because even if he'd been locked in a hyperbaric chamber, he still somehow would've gotten it. 

But like all his other health issues, he would've handled it like a champ! He was unfailingly optimistic, almost infuriatingly so. I'd always think "Dad, it's okay to be mad, or frustrated, or even just mildly irritated." But he never was. It was truly inspiring. 

Michael J. Fox is probably the most prominent advocate for Parkinson's patients, and this book, No Time Like The Future, is about a tough year (2018) for him and how he did his level best to remain optimistic amidst his worsening Parkinson's, and a number of other health calamities, including a fall that left him in a wheelchair for several months. 

The highlight of this book, other than its message about optimism, is Fox's total dad humor. He's self-deprecating and goofy — and actually reminded me a lot of how my dad was: Using silly humor to deflect. 

You certainly don't need to have Parkinson's or even know someone that has Parkinson's to enjoy and be inspired by this book. Even as he's jetting off to Bhutan to shoot a documentary, and meeting Keith Richards at a New Years Eve party, just reading about Fox's everyday struggles helps put things in perspective. The next time you have to do something that seems really difficult, or aren't motivated to, say (as is sometimes the case for me) go for that run, just imagine how difficult it is for Michael J. Fox and/or my dad just to get up in the morning and get out the door. Everyone's fighting a battle. Parkinson's disease is a particularly shitty one. So reading about how Fox remains optimistic, and remembering how my dad did too, is a much-needed dose of inspiration.

PS. April is Parkinson's Awareness Month — hence the timing for this post. My brother Geoff and I are running the Chicago Marathon in October and raising money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. If you'd like to donate, you can do so here. Much appreciated! 

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