Friday, June 5, 2009

Always Looking Up by Michael J. Fox

None of us knows exactly what life will hand us. So, it becomes not so much a matter of what happens to us as much as it matters how we handle it. And, some people don't even have a whole lot of control over that. If your brain is producing chemicals that make you depressed or angry, you may only have a certain amount of control over that, as well.
But, most of us do have choices in life. Personally, I like to surround myself with people who choose to be happy! I suffer bouts of sadness, of course, but I believe I choose to be a happy person and I am thankful that I actually have that choice.
I like doing things that make me happy! For me, it has always been music, books, friends, travel and the world around me ..... these are choices that I have and that I make. I have always loved movies, as well. I will go to movies alone, and actually enjoy doing so. I don't particularly enjoy joining a theatre packed with crazed teenagers, but beyond that, I will partake in the whole movie experience - including a Hefty bag full of popcorn and a keg of soda pop - and will laugh and cry and cheer openly! I have absolutely no qualms about any of that. I will, however, choose films and show times that allow me to avoid the aforementioned wild teenagers .... and lovers. I do try to avoid lovers.
I was stationed in Spain in the mid-eighties and there certainly was plenty for a nineteen year old girl to do there! If I left the base, that is. On Torrejon Air Base, you could listen to music, drink, bowl, watch one television channel sans secular commercials or you could see the one and only film they happened to show. Usually, we knew very little about the films unless, of course, they had music videos associated with them. For example, we knew everything about Top Gun prior to ever seeing the movie because there were so many hit songs and accompanying music videos.
One day, I decided to see the movie du jour about which I knew absolutely nothing. The theatre was packed! I was finding myself becoming increasingly irritated because I have crowd issues and was thankful to find a seat on the aisle, only having to sit next to one stranger.
The movie was Back to the Future and I knew NOTHING about it going in. But I happily went on an amazing, hysterical journey through time with the little spitfire, Michael J. Fox! And I became a lifelong fan!
Always Looking Up, beyond the obvious short joke, is a brilliant book describing the last decade of Michael J. Fox's life so far. Life after a successful film and television career and into a role he most certainly didn't choose. The self-described incurable optimist is an amazing, clever writer and an extremely humble, gracious,respectful man. While he most certainly didn't wake up one day and think, "Perhaps Parkinson's Disease is the one thing missing in my extremely full life", he did understand that his role as a PD patient and well-loved celebrity put him in a position to do something positive about it!
Inspired by friends and peers such as Lance Armstrong, Christopher Reeve and Muhammad Ali, Michael J. Fox created the Michael J. Fox Foundation which has used it's money to take control of Parkinson's research like few other foundations have ever done.
Michael J. Fox writes with humor and compassion and explains not only his disease, but the channels he is taking to cure it. Yes, CURE IT!
This book is broken into four aspects of his life: Work, Politics, Faith and Family. His is a real life. His family is much like our own. His outlook, questions, humility ... all weave together beautifully to make him even more of a hero, in my opinion, than ever before. He's fighting a real fight!
Having lost a sister to ALS, conducting my own little armchair research into stem cell treatments and understanding the human condition has become a daily pastime for me. Michael J. Fox takes it to a much higher level, of course. He is small in stature, but he is an amazingly big person, a big dreamer, a big doer, an incredible optimist and .... beyond everything else, he teaches us the most important lesson of all: It's okay to hope!


bev said...

Becca - I may have been in that crowd at the movie that day. I remember it! And I too fell head over heels in love with this brave man. Great review - awesome insight. Very telling of who you are and what you are all about. I love you!

julie said...

Awesome review!! An optimist is a great person to be around. At 24 years old my father had just returned from the korean war, he was to be President of his senior class at Boston College, and was being looked by Red Sox scouts while playing in a summer park league in Boston. He had it all..but only for a brief moment, that summer Polio was sweeping through the east coast region and he unfortunately got it..he had the worse case in the state of MA. losing use of both of his legs..he was in the hospital and forced to lie flat on his back for 11 months..

An optimist at heart, he met and married my mother shortly after leaving the hospital, has an MBA,and a PhD from BC and had a 40 year career in the athletic and PR Dept...he also has been an amazing positive role model for his 9 children and grandchildren! Now 77 years old and in a wheelchair he continues to be an avid reader and is lucky to sit on many boards as and advisor. He is a true example of how a positive outlook on life can take you very far!! I love MJF and all he is doing for stem cell research!!! Thanks Becca!!