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.
How do you stay so optimistic?
Well, because the world is just so full of possibilities. I was in Mexico a couple of years ago, and we were hiking on a trail on the Yucatan Peninsula. We had a guide, and he showed us this tree on one side of the path that had this red sap. And he said, "If you see this sap, this tree, don't touch it because it'll burn you. It's really caustic and it's acidic and it'll burn your flesh." And then we walked a little bit further down the trail, and there was a tree on the other side that was a black tree and had a black tar. And he said, "This tar heals burns."
And I just thought, well, that's the world—for everything that'll burn you, there's something that'll heal your burns. So I just stay on that side of the path.
I see possibilities in everything. For everything that's taken away, something of greater value has been given. As big as my problems are, as big as Parkinson's is, for example, it can't take up that much space in a world that has so much capacity for good stuff. It just doesn't. I just don't let it take up that much room.
Do you think one can always be both optimistic and realistic?
Aren't they sometimes at odds?
No, I don't think so. I mean, I think it's okay, obviously, to acknowledge obstacles and setbacks and problems and issues. But as long as you're dealing with the truth, you're in good shape. I find as long as I acknowledge the truth of something, then that's it. I know what it is and then I can operate. But if I overestimate the downside of something or the challenge of something and I get too obsessed about the difficulty of it, then I don't leave enough room to be open to the upside, the possibility.
So I think you definitely have to acknowledge the fact of something. If something isn't a movable object, then you have to start thinking about getting around it. But you can't do that until you acknowledge it and take its full measure and understand its true weight.
Where do you most often find happiness?
In my family, in being with my wife and my kids. If at any moment of stress or tension or whatever I could close my eyes and be anywhere, it'd be with them. That's just neverending. I just get so much joy from my family.
I read that you are raising your children in a Jewish home, an interfaith home really.
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