Michael J. Fox Reveals Who Inspires Him to Find Gratitude in Life

Despite being dealt a tough hand in life, Michael J. Fox finds reasons to be grateful, even though some days he finds it increasingly difficult.

Michael J. Fox on Jimmy Fallon
Michael J. Fox |NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

He recently opened up about days when looking for the silver lining isn’t a lock and when giving up and giving in seems like a preferable path. During those challenging times, Fox looks to his father-in-law, Stephen Pollan. Pollan, now deceased, offered words Fox continues to draw from during adversity, which reminds him to be grateful for every day.

Michael J. Fox gets to the end of his rope too

Fox spoke with the Vineyard Gazette while he promoting his new book, “No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality.” Fox plans to discuss the book during The Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival, which is being held virtually this year on Feb. 25.

He gave two examples of when he felt beaten down by life and ready to throw in the towel. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease, which he has dealt with for more than 20 years, has been more than a challenge. He described being splayed out on the kitchen floor during the summer of 2018. He had shattered the humerus bone in his left arm and he was over it.

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“I broke my arm, and I broke my arm badly,” he told The Gazette. “It wasn’t so much that it hurt. It was all of a sudden I didn’t feel so optimistic and I thought, what a giant load of crap . . . holding up optimism as a panacea.”

He recalled the year being especially bad. Stephen Pollan died, which was a huge blow to the family and Fox. Pollan was someone Fox considered to be a mentor and inspiration. Now a bright light in Fox’s life was snuffed out.

Michael J. Fox turns Stephen Pollan’s words for inspiration

Fox fell again that year and conjured the words Pollan left with him to get him through adversity.

“I kept going back to Steve,” Fox said. “He always talked about acceptance and he always talked about gratitude. And I started to work gratitude into all my scenarios and to see where my gratitude was from this — and if I had gratitude. And it hit me, summing it all up: with gratitude, optimism is sustainable.”

Fox’s wife certainly inherited her father’s sage outlook in life. He recounted her reaction to his Parkinson’s diagnosis, recalling the moment he knew their bond was unshakable. “We didn’t know what to expect,” Fox told Willie Geist on Today. “One of the things I’ll always love Tracy for is that at that moment, she didn’t blink.”

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“It’s really great to have a partner,” Fox said becoming tearful. “Well, Tracy’s amazing. She’s there in the front lines with me every single day. She never pretends to know as much as I know. And the other thing Tracy does is, if there’s something funny, let’s get to the funny. We’ll deal with the tragic later.”

“I just picture her talking to me, like, ‘So anyway, I’m going to the store, and oh, you’ve fallen down,” he said. “OK, I’m going to the market, I’m getting — are you okay? OK, so I’m getting cheese, and I’m getting bread, I’m getting baguettes. Don’t get up. Just stay there for a second. I’m taking the station wagon. Not that you care.”