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  • Daniel Francis

Wisdom from a Lame Fox

Earlier this year, I had the joy and honor of helping a man in his early 90s write what could be his final book. In it, he reflects on his life, the lessons he's learned and how the reader can "enter eternity with ease" by allowing the ego to die. [As a shameless plug, if you are interested in contracting my ghost-writing assistance, send me an email.]


Another book that has caught my attention is just out. The actor Michael J. Fox provides a pre-Thanksgiving gift that is a cornucopia of sage advice and poignant perspective. In his memoir, we get a glimpse into the way Fox deals with Parkinson's Disease- it's like seeing a "disability" through a different prism.


Here's a slice of his life and perhaps, as you read this, you may be inspired--as I was--to be grateful for the gift of life and health that we so often take for granted:


But what I’m only now starting to fully understand is that this is an inside job. It only works if I believe. I’ve always been confident, positive, doggedly determined; but doubt is beginning to mitigate my conviction. Who am I to think I can accomplish this, when so many have struggled with similar setbacks; some with Parkinson’s, some with the aftermath of spinal surgery? I may be the only one who has taken on this particular two-headed beast...
I have to learn to walk again; to reclaim my mobility, remaster my motion. I consider this fundamental to my therapy — for me, it all starts and ends with walking. And I understand that it's more complicated than that. So many tiny disciplines have to be observed, and neglected muscles and ligaments need to be restored. I’m exhausted by the effort I’ve already put in at Johns Hopkins, and daunted by how much work I still have to do. It’s like being nibbled to death by ducks.
Back in the days of carefree ambling, I would have considered the topic of walking to be rather pedestrian. Now the acts of stepping, strolling, hiking, and perambulating have become an obsession. I watch Esmé gliding through the kitchen, grabbing an apple while opening the fridge door for a coconut water, closing it with a quick shift of her hip and pirouetting out the swinging door at the other end of the room. Down in the lobby, my neighbor and her daughter are quickstepping to catch a taxi. I spy on a man walking with a slight limp, which he counterbalances with a bag of groceries. I secretly watch the way they all move. Easy, breezy, catlike, or with a limp, every one of them is far better at it than me. It may be that the most difficult, miraculous thing we do, physically, is to walk.

-Michael J. Fox,

No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality

(Flatiron Books, November 17, 2020)


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