Reading An Optimist Considers Mortality by Michael J. Fox

Saturday, April 10, 2021


No Time Like the Present: An Optimist Considers Mortality by Michael J. Fox

Published by Flatiron Books, November 17, 2020

Genre: Nonfiction

Format: I audiobooked this one via Libby

Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's Disease when he was 29 when the average diagnosis age for early-onset PD is 40. Though Parkinson's has a reputation of causing tremors, it's a neurodegenerative disease that affects the wiring of how the brain signals the body. In his memoir, Fox writes about losing the ability to perceive the amount of space his body takes up, having difficulty enunciating words, and dealing with his family's worries about his falling. He's honest about his struggles.

At the same time, though, Fox directs his focus throughout much of his book on the bright spots of his life--growing up playing hockey, befriending a sweet, stray dog, having kids, getting sober, loving his wife, acting. He's tenacious in his hold on positivity. This reflects even in his title: No Time Like the Future. 

Some critics of the book write harshly about Fox's privilege. It must be nice to have access to specialists, prime golf tea times, and around-the-clock nurses. It's true that Fox doesn't hide any of the realities of his life, but why should he? Through his foundation, Fox has done much to raise money for PD research and has sacrificed much of his public identity to become an emissary of a disease. 

How someone copes when forced to face mortality is scary and personal. If you're a Fox fan from his 1980s classics or Spin City or The Good Wife, you'll connect with his charm and optimism and enjoy his memories and reflections on the journey.


“When I visit the past now, it is for wisdom and experience, not for regret or shame. I don’t attempt to erase it, only to accept it. Whatever my physical circumstances are today, I will deal with them and remain present. If I fall, I will rise up. As for the future, I haven’t been there yet. I only know that I have one. Until I don’t. The last thing we run out of is the future. Really, it comes down to gratitude. I am grateful for all of it—every bad break, every wrong turn, and the unexpected losses—because they’re real. It puts into sharp relief the joy, the accomplishments, the overwhelming love of my family. I can be both a realist and an optimist. Lemonade, anyone?”


I enjoyed it. It was like having coffee with MJF. 

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