I watched an interview tonight with Michael J. Fox. He spoke about his struggles with Parkinson's Disease and the support he receives from his friends and loved ones especially when he's about to step out into the public and his body won't cooperate. Times when he would've backed out, postponed the event, there was always someone who cared to give him an invisible but warmly felt embrace, enough support to propel him forward.
Fox's primary focus since his diagnosis has been on the public and governmental enlightenment of Parkinson's, and most importantly on advocacy. Demanding more funding for research. Drumming up more awareness for the need for research. His choice to go public, to use his personal situation in a manner which promotes the eradication of Parkinson's and other related neurological diseases through intensive research.
This is a man with a mission, albeit one he never ever would've predicted. He impresses and inspires so many. Me included. Watching the interview on CTV tonight, I couldn't help but smile at his down to earth approach coupled with his realistic passion as he spoke about his Foundation.
TEAMFOX, he explained in the interview is what he called "Disruptive Philanthropy." The Foundation wants results NOW. There is no Department of Cures, he said. Money is dispensed for all kinds of research with little or no connection or accountability. This team wants to know the findings, the progress. Face to face discussions. Working together. What motivates Michael J. Fox? He has taken on this massive responsibility on behalf of millions of others hoping for a cure to make demands, to raise funds, to send a message that there IS a Foundation that is working for them.
Active, proactive....... putting it out there! I am convinced Michael J. Fox's optimistic yet "disruptive" approach, which always comes across as respectful and dignified not only will help this cause, it has most certainly enhanced his life by providing a spiritual energy you can't define.
Here's another story.................
Last night, regular programming was altered on the CBC. Hockey Night in Canada kicked in with a special hockey game, featuring the return of Sydney Crosby, Canada's golden boy. (he did score the gold medal winning goal in the Vancouver Olympics..... something so magical, I don't think you could've scripted the ending better!) He is THE hope for the NHL to break into the American sports market more effectively. HE IS the hero and inspiration for every little kid who gets up early for hockey practice at the local rink. If Sydney could start off as a "Timbit" player and rise to the top of the hockey scoring echelon, why can't I?
This is the message..... He is the ultimate spokesperson for the sport. Like his predecessor, Wayne Gretzky, Crosby is a well spoken hometown boy who takes his role seriously. Respectful whenever he is thrusted into the media limelight (daily) and patient with the onslaught of questions, autograph sessions, time with kids, Sydney naturally became our collective son.
You'd have to been living in a Great White North shoebox not to know that Sydney Crosby suffered a concussion almost a year ago that sidelined him indefinitely. Even if you don't catch the news on a regular basis, chances are you heard on story update after another...... from the "catastrophic" messages that he would never play again, to the hopeful message that he just needs time to heal. Many debates on the need to change the type of on ice playing/hitting/checking ensued as did discussions on what a concussion feels like and how it is treated. Often, a Crosby news update was the headliner in the National paper, or the top story on the National news, usurping some violent uprising that was changing another nation in the Middle East! SAFE to assume this got out of hand. The media beat this story to a pulp.
However, like many folks across this country, I embraced the hype. Why? Because of his manner. Because of how he presented himself while working hard to get back in shape. Because he has drive, determination, focus. I wanted to see return to the ice again. Would he be just as effective? How would he perform? Would he be able to find that confidence.... that "zone" where only the elite and gifted can enter or would it be gone for good? It took a matter of seconds to see that Sydney Crosby still ruled the ice. 2 goals and 2 assists later? Boy Wonder is back.
What he went through personally has had to be life altering. That famous hockey check that knocked him to the ground a year ago (and has been shown on the news on a daily basis....!!!) not only left him with a brain injury and an unpredictable healing journey, it foisted him into the role of spokesman. Head injuries now have their spokesperson. Even new techniques were tried on him to get him back to top shape. We're learning abou them now. It will be interesting to see if he takes this on as effectively as Michael J. Fox has Parkinson's Disease............ If he's paying attention to his destiny, he will. For now, let him play, play, play..... let him be the quiet mentor of every kid who laces up for early morning practices.....
So, why did these two stories merge into one article? Hockey. Michael J. Fox is a rabid hockey fan. Crazy for it!! He may be an American citizen, but he is a Canuck at heart. Grew up here. Was fed on Hockey Night in Canada. He's often seen sitting in the stands at a game. I'm sure he has had many discussions with his friends on the progress of our golden boy Sydney...... However, there other connections I was thinking abou too. These two guys have the same behavioural manner. The same approach to the public. Respectful. Approachable. Determined. Emotionally literate. Dignified even when they wear flannel plaid! They project the manner all Canadians aspire to. These are values we collectively hold dear. It is what is expected of us. In the boardrooms, on the warfronts, during peacekeeping, in front of a camera........... in our communities, in our classrooms. Face to face.
The other thing? Well it turns out that the place where Michael J. Fox's tremours quietly settle down the most? At the rink. When he's geared up...... skates, jersey, shoulder pads etc, it appears Fox is in his happy place! Put a hockey stick in his hands and Michael J. Fox is physically and spiritually integrated. The friendly banterer who continues to be an effective advocate? I'm sure he was glued to the TV last night too waiting, watching and hoping Sydney could bring the magic back to the game.
These two men, have learned to work hard, and have learned how to tackle "mind over matter....." Their trials are part of who they are....... Just thinking about them tonight inspires me as I accept the next stage in my own journey. Their determination certainly puts things into perspective.