Michael J Fox on booze, control and expectations

I think this is pretty interesting…

Before I continue with my own personal story, let me give you some idea of where I’m heading. It’s all about control. Control is illusory. No matter what university you go to, no matter what degree you hold, if your goal is to become master of your own destiny, you have more to learn. Parkinson’s is a perfect metaphor for lack of control. Every unwanted movement in my hand or arm, every twitch that I cannot anticipate or arrest, is a reminder that even in the domain of my own being, I am not calling the shots. I tried to exert control by drinking myself to a place of indifference, which just exacerbated the sense of miserable hopelessness.
I always find it ironic when people refer to me and my situation as “the fight of his life,” or describe me as a “battler” or “engaged in a struggle.” None of these terms apply to the way that I now approach my disease. The only way I could win – if winning means achieving and maintaining a happy and balanced life – was to surrender, and I took the first baby steps toward that victory by admitting powerlessness over alcohol.
Sober didn’t mean better, not right away. Far from it. There were periods of time when I spent hours and hours submerged in the bathtub, a sort of symbolic retreat back to the womb. When I wasn’t just trying to keep my head below water, the rest of those first couple of years without drinking were like a knife fight in a closet. With no escape from the disease, its symptoms and challenges, I was forced to resort to acceptance. A piece of wisdom I picked up along the way became the basis of a liberating new approach to life: “My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectation.”
page 85
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future
Michael J. Fox

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3 Responses to Michael J Fox on booze, control and expectations

  1. robpatrob says:

    I and most westerners are so goal orientated – at 61 I am just starting to enjoy the day. Sure I have things I hope will happen but I don’t make my efforts the only way to get there.

    What a relief this has been for me – the best part of growing up so far. Maybe it is the reality that I have no control over my death which is so much closer now?

  2. dwighttowers says:

    Thanks Robert,
    I remember one of the actors who played Darrin in “Bewitched” on the radio shortly before he died (this will have been the mid-80s), saying that he had nothing to fear, and a bout of real grinding poverty had taught him about friendship, impermanence, value ettc. It has lurked there in my brain all this time.

    One thing that strikes me about your transformation (and I speak as a health care professional whose work is mostly about mopping up the end-stage consequences of type two diabetes) is that yes, of course you are going to die – ain’t we all – but you seem extremely well-placed to avoid the really horrible morbidity/illness things. And that much/kind of control is superb!

  3. robpatrob says:

    You raise a good point – about what any of us CAN control. I can control my own actions only. AND they can have a large result for ME and in a funny way also for others. For it has been my story not my preaching that has had the most effect on others who see a fat man who can change.

    I think that there are trajectories in nature. We live in the dying years of a powerful one – when they die, they also offer great opportunity because they are weak.

    Early on – as with the life of a child small things that you do have much greater impact that later when the trajectory is set. Why I think how we raise our kids when they are very very young is so important a time.

    So while I feel great fear about what is to unfold in our larger world, I also feel so lucky that I live now and have a chance to make a difference however tiny

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