Lucky Man: A Memoir

Michael J. Fox


PASSAGE 1

“No matter how great the acceptance, adulation, and accumulation of wealth, gnawing at you is always the deep-seated belief that you’re a fake, a phony. Even if you can bullshit your way through whatever job you’re working on now, you’d better prepare for the likelihood that you’re never going to get another one (pg. 16).”

I find this passage interesting because it seems very relevant to modern day humans. Many people, if not all, find themselves “bullsh*ting” through work or school at some point in their lives. It’s difficult to be genuine with everything we do all the time. Because of this, we may feel like a fake sometimes. I understand what this passage is saying, although it’s a little confusing to me why despite the listed factors, we still feel like a fake. Sure, some people may be able to relate to the statement, but I believe that most people work their way to earn acceptance, adulation, accumulation of wealth, etc. In this case, I don’t think that everybody has a deep-seated belief that they are a fake, as long as we are clear that we worked our way to earn such privileges.

The second half of my chosen passage describes the difficulty of going in a new direction/getting a new job once you have already committed to one. This autobiography was published in 2002, and we can see that the values of that time are not too different from our current values. It’s true that most people don’t or can’t change their job pathway, but I feel that our society nowadays is open to more career options. Rather than having very typical “womanly” and “manly” jobs, there are many more opportunities to earn money doing things that weren’t as popular in the early 2000s. For example, careers that are related to YouTube videos, vlogging, getting famous by reaching audiences online, etc. can all be money-making careers if done well.

PASSAGE 2

“My mom, Phyllis, and dad, Sgt. William Fox, Royal Canadian Army Signal Corps, had become experts at relocation. Between their wedding day in 1950 and that afternoon Mom spent uncrating the effects of thirteen years of family life, Dad had been stationed at six different army bases (pg. 32).”

Personally, I find this passage intriguing because the gender roles are very distinct. When comparing the values and norms of that time and now, I can see how much society has changed. In my family, both my mom and dad work for the same amount of time and for similar pay. In fact, they currently are working at the same company. Whereas for Michael, we can see that his mother and father did stereotypical but historically understandable, “women jobs” and “men jobs” respectively. I also found this quotation interesting because of its description of Sgt. William Fox being in the Royal Canadian Army Signal Corps. Due to William Fox’s enlistment in the army, Fox’s family had to relocate many times around Canada.

Not surprisingly, Michael’s mom focused on family life and taking care of her five children while his dad was stationed at army bases. Stereotypical gender roles often catch my attention because they are easy to spot and are less relevant in the current day, although they are still somewhat imposed. However, since this took place around the 1960s, I acknowledge the fact that the norms were different than the way they are now. Men commonly joined the army and women usually stayed home to take care of family and raise kids. I can connect this to previous learning about gender roles in society (when analyzing Star Wars). Using the gender lens and historical lens, I can see how normal it was for most families to run in this similar manner.

PASSAGE 3

“Born into the uncertainty of the Great Depression and having come of age during World War II, Mom and Dad had carefully constructed a life together that avoided surprises. Dad’s decision to embark on a career in the military must have been a calculated tradeoff – individuality for security – with no possibility for a windfall, but no nasty surprises either (pg. 36).”

When I read the line “individuality for security”, I was instantly reminded of what we have been discussing in class recently. This “tradeoff” idea is exactly like the Left-wing and Right-wing political perspectives. When Michael J. Fox talked about how his dad’s decision to take on a career in the military was like a calculated tradeoff, it relates to the idea of giving up our individual freedom for the greater good of our population. Furthermore, this idea takes me back to when we learned about Hobbes and Locke. Locke’s idea of limited government control versus Hobbes’ idea of a monarchy for security is represented here, as we can see that the Fox family traded their individual freedom for security (with the army).

From what I have read so far, I can infer that people during the late 1900s were leaning more towards Hobbes’ perspective, in which they give up most of their individual freedom for security from the military and government. Relating this back to the original topic of what it means to be a Canadian, I can say that Michael J. Fox’s family believes that being a Canadian means giving up a bit of personal independence for security of a wider population of people. Nowadays, both sides of the spectrum are acknowledged, and everyone’s views vary. However, it seems that in comparison to the 1950s-1970s, we are now keener to strive for a society of independence and individual freedom.

PASSAGE 4

“After Dad’s retirement and our return to B.C., we settled into a three-bedroom flat in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby. Situated across the street from a sprawling strip mall with an enormous parking lot perfect for endless hours of street hockey, the apartment complex also boasted a[n] […] outdoor swimming pool (pg. 48).”

Firstly, this passage caught my attention right away because it mentioned Burnaby, which is also where I lived for a period of time. It feels like I can connect to Michael J. Fox in a way, knowing that both he and I have lived in the same city during our lives. Other than that, I also noticed how the quote briefly mentions street hockey, which immediately has the connotation of typical “Canadian sports”. Personally, I just chose this passage for my blog post because it resonates with me, most likely because it makes me feel a lot closer to Michael J. Fox. Since he and his family spent quite some time in the United States for his career, I wasn’t able to get much information on his whereabouts within Canada, so this passage was a little insight on his life in Vancouver, B.C.

This passage itself doesn’t mention much about Canadian values at the time, or what it means to be a Canadian. However, based on my knowledge of current real estate and housing prices, I can infer that the value of money has changed quite a bit. Back when Michael J. Fox and his family purchased this three-bedroom flat, the cost would definitely differ from what it would cost now. It’s possible that either the value of money was higher than it is now, and housing was affordable, or that the Fox family was wealthy enough to make this investment. Knowing that the complex also included an outdoor pool, it seems like it would not be very cheap in the current day.

PASSAGE 5

“Following his surprise pronouncement that I had P.D., that very first diagnosing neuro offered what I assume he considered an upbeat prognosis. “With proper treatment,” he promised, “I see no reason why you can’t have another ten good years of work ahead of you.” […] Ten years? I had just turned thirty (pg. 151).”

Firstly, I found this quotation intriguing because it gives us an insight into Fox’s battle with Parkinson’s Disease. I did not know much about Parkinson’s Disease prior to reading this autobiography, so understanding the process of the treatment is also one of my goals when reading. Another interesting topic that popped up in my head was the connection to our “Trends and Identity” unit that we discussed during class. When reading the handout, I found that the average human is employed until 60-64 years of age. When Fox was told that he would most likely be working until he was 40, he seemed quite distraught. This is one of the small factors that lead him up to starting the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (which I have not read up to yet).

Based on the readings, being a Canadian means having the desire to work as much as we can, when we can. Rather than slacking off, we would prefer spending our time doing something useful and practical for either ourselves or our community. For instance, Michael J. Fox used his own experience to learn and educate others about Parkinson’s Disease. Not only did he start this Foundation to gain more knowledge about his own condition, but to also provide this information to others who might have it as well. To Fox, being a Canadian means wanting to work through difficulties to improve our own, as well as other people’s lives.

Theme:

Try to make something beneficial out of what seems disadvantageous. I purposefully made this theme broad because it can be used in many different scenarios. Whether it be little news or big news, I think it’s always a good idea to make the best out of what we are given. Of course, sometimes it gets really difficult to see the bright side of an unfortunate situation. However, if something is irreversible or inevitable, we might as well take something good out of it that can benefit ourselves and others.