The Most Optimistic Guy in Hollywood

Actor Michael J. Fox talks to Beliefnet about his battle with Parkinson's disease, why he looks at life more spiritually now, and how he stays optimistic and grateful.

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With Parkinson's, it's the same thing. I don't control it. I don't have power over it, so I have to just accept it and then I can move on from there.

I often say now I don't have any choice whether or not I have Parkinson's, but surrounding that non-choice is a million other choices that I can make. And given that the Parkinson's put me in a place I didn't think I'd be, these are not choices that I normally would have at my disposal. These are new choices and they lead to amazing places.

Do you believe in God or a higher power?

I definitely believe in a higher power. If you, for example, say that alcohol is more powerful than you, then there's a greater power than you, a power greater than yourself. I mean, I'm not gonna live in a world where the only higher power than me is alcohol. There's another higher power than that. I don't subscribe to any particular orthodoxy, so I don't define it and I don't put it into a definition that other people have to conform to. An expression I always use is, there is a God and it's not me.

When you were first diagnosed, did you have a moment where you asked, "Why me?"

No, I didn't get into the "Why me?" I got into the "It can't be." I got right into "This is a mistake" and "Can somebody just point out the mistake that's been made here so I can get on with my life?" So that was why a lot of it, for me, was accepting and acknowledging the truth of it.


How do you think you helped yourself accept the diagnosis?

I think it is humility and saying "I can't negotiate this. I can't use who I am in the world to get out from under this." Humility is always a good thing. It's always a good thing to be humbled by circumstances so you can then come from a sincere place to try to deal with them.

Once I started to calm everything down, it was just living with the diagnosis and then allowing myself to accept and educate myself about it. I [spoke] to doctors and scientists, and then also concentrated on my family and realized that I didn't have to fear the effect on them. I kind of projected all my worries onto them and thought they must have the same doubts or the same concerns that I had--without giving them a chance to tell me how they really felt. And when I did, they were great. I mean, [my wife] Tracy was unbelievable. But my first assumption was who'd want to deal with this if they didn't have to?

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