Michael J. Fox Chats About New Book, Dropping Out of School
By Nicki Gostin Posted Apr 13th 2010 05:20PM
Here, Fox chats with PopEater about dropping out of school, his hopes for a cure for Parkinson's and why "life gets really good when things get terrible."
This new book seems geared to impart lessons. What's the most important one?
Life gets really good when things get terrible. We all make plans, and somewhere along the way, life will create holes, and we can fill them in ways we didn't plan or expect.
You are so positive.
I'm having a good time. My life is richer because of the holes.
How did this book come about?
After I did the last one, I vowed to never write another book, because it's so much work. But my publisher came to me with the idea of writing a sort of primer geared toward students graduating from high school and college. I loved the irony of it, because I'm a high school dropout. I retold some stories from the first book and came up with some ideas. I actually had a lot of fun. As a parent putting four kids through school, I'm very familiar with a classical education, but also the idea of an informal education. You can learn economics from school or in life, by going broke. You can learn physics in school or when you fall down and bump your nose. Lessons can be learned in a structured or unstructured way. Then there are teachers in the formal sense and mentors in the informal sense. I mulled over all those things. The book is not a prescriptive -- I'm just sharing these stories.
You're a high school dropout. What would you do if one of your kids said they wanted to drop out?
My son is in college, my twins are in ninth grade, and my youngest is going to be the president of the United States. I don't think any of them would drop out, but I would take them seriously. When I left school, it wasn't because I had a problem with it, it was because I was in pursuit of a career. I did go back after 15 years and get my GED. My dad was great when I told him I was dropping out. He drove me down to Los Angeles. He lost his s**t, but he came through. I hope I would do the same thing.
Could you have imagined you would be such a positive person before you were diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease?
I don't think I could have imagined the other things that have come into place. If I didn't have Parkinson's then my life would have been more of the same -- acting, traveling and being away from my family. My illness forced me to spend time with my family, to work on my foundation, and my life is so much richer because of it. It's altered my reality is such a positive way.
Are you hopeful about finding a cure with your foundation?
I think so, but I'm also realistic about what it takes. For every breakthrough there are so many failures. What I want to do is embody hope for a cure. People know we are out there and actively working for a cure and we are making lots of strides in bio markers and promoting stem cell research.
Can you imagine your life without your wife Tracy Pollan?
No, not in a million years. She's amazing. She's uncomfortable with the notion that she's a rock for me -- she doesn't view it that way. She sees us as pretty blessed in a lot of ways. She's a great mom and partner.
I think the best part about being married to Tracy is you're also related to Michael Pollan, her brother.
Yes, the Carl Sagan of food. He has become quite a figurehead. He taught me a lot, personally, about how to write and how to think about writing. And of course he's taken the subject of food into the realm of politics and made us all think about where our food is from.
Michael J. Fox Snapshots
Actor and activist Michael J. Fox speaks during the closing ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Olympics on February 28. Check out some recent pics of Fox (hint: he can swim) >>
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