A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Future


A short book, maybe a kind of like companion book to Lucky Man.

In A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Future, Michael J. Fox talks about his philosophy and lessons he learned from his experience.

Here is a nice summary by the author himself.

Like I said, I’m not much for advice. But I’ll leave you with a quick review. Being in control of your own destiny is a myth—and wouldn’t be half as much fun anyway. Pay attention to what’s happening around you. Read the book before you see the movie. Remember, though you, alone, are responsible for your own happiness, it’s still okay to feel responsible for someone else’s.

Oh yes, it was interesting how he talked about books and movies, what he called “Comparative Literature.” I usually avoid reading movie books (or try my best to read it before watching its movie adaptation), but it might just be a fun experience, comparing how different they are. And now Fight Club is on my to-read shelf.

Memorable Quotes

Being a starving actor, I couldn’t afford to buy books, but I couldn’t afford not to read books.

When comparing the positive and negative qualities of books and movies, keep in mind the storytelling advantages of each medium. The novelist has the benefit of exposition, interior dialogue, and imagination unlimited by production costs. And the director can employ dynamic visuals and harness the visceral power of the actors’ performances.

Just as you can’t change the essential nature of a place, don’t count on the place to change the essential nature of you.

It’s all about control. Control is illusory. No matter what university you go to, no matter what degree you hold, if your goal is to become master of your own destiny, you have more to learn. Parkinson’s is a perfect metaphor for lack of control. Every unwanted movement in my hand or arm, every twitch that I cannot anticipate or arrest, is a reminder that even in the domain of my own being, I am not calling the shots.

It all came down to choices. As it related to the central issue of my life, I realized that the only choice not available to me was whether or not I had Parkinson’s. Everything else—how much I understood about the disease, its emotional effect, its treatment, and its impact on my career and family—was up to me.

Don’t spend a lot of time imagining the worst-case scenario. It rarely goes down as you imagine it will, and if by some fluke it does, you will have lived it twice. When things do go bad, don’t run, don’t hide. Stick it out, and be scrupulous in facing every part of your fear. Try to be still. It will take time, but you’ll find that even the gravest problems are finite—and that your choices are infinite.

The act of lifting up the camera and positioning it between me and the object of my interest separates me from the experience. The memory exists on photo paper, or is stored digitally and ready for download, but the emotional resonance is lessened.