“Optimism + information = hope” is a saying from the late Christopher Reeve used by Michael J. Fox in his book Always Looking Up The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist. I was too young/not interested in the genre to know Christopher Reeve as Superman. To me he was always the celebrity injured in a horrific accident who used his accident to advocate for himself and others. However, I loved Michael J. Fox from a young age. I absolutely loved him as Alex P Keaton and Teen Wolf in the 80s. I remember going to see Back to the Future III in the theater even though I was only 7 when it came out. When he returned to the small screen on Spin City, I was beyond thrilled. That thrill turned to shock upon learning that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. In 1998, when he announced his diagnosis, it was something that I in my sheltered existence had not heard a lot about, but luckily I like to learn.
Today (ironically on Mike’s 59th birthday), I finished reading his second book. I’d previously read Lucky Man and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future, but I decided to check out Always Looking Up as part of the adult summer reading challenge (read a non-fiction book). This book was amazingly informative! Did you know that bradykinesia and dyskinesia are both things that PD patients experience? Did you know that PD patients can’t just lay down and go to sleep at night? Did you know that simple things like sitting at a table in a restaurant or in a seat in an auditorium can be difficult for PD patients? I didn’t! Why? Simply stated, I didn’t know these things because I had never thought of them. Always Looking Up made me think about these things which is empowering as I’ve long felt that the reason people don’t understand cultural, political, social, etc issues is because they don’t have the needed information.
This book was informative on several levels. The first section called “Work” talks about how the Michael J. Fox Foundation came to exist. In the second section “Politics” he discusses some of the advocating that he did for Stem Cell Research. Following are sections devoted to “Faith” and “Family” and the ways they’ve impacted his life both before and with PD. It was fascinating to learn more about all of these things and learn more about Michael J. Fox himself. To say his story is an inspiration would be an understatement!
I’m glad that I took the time to read this book. I really believe that we can learn a lot from reading as in some cases it will be as close as we can get to walking in someone else shoes. Perhaps if we all read up on things, then we would all be better for it, and the world would become a better place. But perhaps that is just “optimism + information = hope” to once again quote Christopher Reeve.
For more on these men checkout: https://www.christopherreeve.org/ and https://www.michaeljfox.org/. Also, happy birthday, Michael J. Fox!
The Great Kaysby