May 19, 2009 Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist by Michael J. Fox
Okay, I can't go into this "review" without admitting my bias up front. I totally ♥ Michael J. Fox. Seriously - grew up on Family Ties, saw all 3 "Back to the Future" movies in the theatre, always stop when "Doc Hollywood" is on AMC. So the chances were I was going to like this book.
And I was right.
He sprinkles his recounting of the last nine years with hilarious anecdotes from his family and professional lives. There were times that I was laughing out loud as he told the story of teaching his son to ride a bike or of sharing the back of a truck with Robin Williams and Eric Idle as Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France. And I got goosebumps when I read that he and his family were supposed to be on the Concorde that crashed just after that but they went back a day early. Ooh, I get chills just thinking about that.
He talked about being a non-Jew in a Jewish family, which was really interesting. I never really think about the religions of other people, but his section on faith was thought-provoking. I found myself disagreeing with some of his "new-age-y" (as he would call it) beliefs and then questioning myself on the disagreement. Sometimes you don't realize you have strong feelings about something until something else comes up to contradict what you feel. I really liked this quote by his rabbi too.
Great, strong beliefs for any religion about the non-believers of that religion. Ones I wished were followed by everyone.
Let us be grateful to those who have chosen to be part of our destiny and our family. Let us throw open our doors to all who would choose to enter, and let us open our arms wide to embrace the non-Jews, those who are sitting among us today. They are precious and they are courageous and they are ours, and they are part of our future and our destiny. So let us all together, with them, be strong...with God's help. Amen.
There was only one part of the book where I just got viscerally angry and had a hard time going on. He described where he was (Los Angeles for a guest shot on Spin City) and his reaction to September 11th. He, too, had woken up way before his alarm by a phone call with someone crying on the phone to turn on the television. We both saw the same thing and couldn't process it. And we were both not where we wanted to be.
Substitute "DC" for "New York" and that's a perfect summation of how I felt that day. I was morbidly excited to hear from someone else who was isolated in that sunny City on the darkest day we've faced in recent history.
On September 11, 2001, while my family was in New York, I wasn't really in Los Angeles; if I was not with them, I was nowhere.
But then I read that he called up Gavin De Becker, a personal security expert and author of The Gift of Fear, who arranged for two guards to drive him across the country in 48 hours, stopping only for gas and food, so he could be home in NYC with his family. And even though we don't know each other and it had nothing to do with me, I was so angry; I felt left behind. KB and I discussed trying to drive back to our respective hometowns to check on our families, but then we'd be back there for who knows how long, paying rent in LA and still having to drive back. And maybe when we got there, we (at least me, living so close to DC) might not be let in. The Towers had fallen, the Pentagon was still on fire and there were still planes missing. Three of the four planes had been bound for LA and we were all bracing for what might be next. My dad was stuck in a foreign country (and he wouldn't be able to return home to my mom for another two weeks) and all I wanted was to hug my mom.
I've never been particularly jealous or envious of celebrities or their wealth, but in that moment, reading that, I was. I was 20 years old, stuck in a city where I knew about 3 people, and only one of them well at all, and my hometown was under attack. But I had about $100 in my bank account and no cell phone number for the personal security to the stars, so I sat home on my Ikea couch and tried in vain for hours to get a cell phone connection to go through so I could at least hear my mom's voice. A cynical voice in my head shouted that perhaps it's easier to be "always looking up" when you've got lots of money to throw at the life's problems. It doesn't change my "like" (something you've got to read the book to understand) of Mr. Fox, but it was still hard to read.
That said, I did love the way he ended the main part of his book because I found it to be true of my life as well. There are days when I feel like a nomad, always moving, searching, trying to figure out "is this it?" And perhaps it is, but I like the way he put it:
We are where we are. If we keep moving, we'll be someplace else. We'll know when we get there.
Labels: celebrity, memoir, non-fiction, quotations
posted by Jenn at 6:37 PM