The Next Right Thing

Reclining back in the dentist’s chair, I was killing time flipping through Time magazine since it was 9:05am and my appointment was supposed to be for 8:30am. There was an article on Michael J. Fox whom I admire and adore.  The dental assistant sits down next to me. . .

“Oh! Michael J. Fox! He was so great.”

“Um . . . he’s not dead.”

“Oh, I know! But he was such a great actor in that one show. It’s a classic.”

“Family Ties?”

“Yeah! Or Back to the Future. You know, back in the day.”

This is about the moment where my head implodes. How old is she?! Better yet, HOW OLD AM I!?

Verdict: Closer to 40 than I am to 30 which means things I grew up loving are now considered “classic” and in about 10-20 years what was cool in my day and age will be referred to as “retro.”


It didn’t help matters that the dental tech who brought me back to my chair looked like he was 12. I AM SERIOUS. Isn’t it against the law to employ child labor like that?

My dentist apparently loves to talk about golf. He chimed in on the Michael J. Fox conversation and was all, “I watched some of his special on TV. Just the part about golf- he was playing with Bill Murray.” He mentioned golf or things-related-to-golf 4 times during my appointment. I counted.

But let’s get back to the point- Michael J. Fox inspires me. He’s got a great outlook on life and is really using his life and the card he’s been dealt for good. I sometimes think I am an optimist but I’m probably more of an indirect optimist. I can’t just hear seemingly bad news and immediately jump to the bright side. I’m a planner and an organizer so first I have to sort the information through that filter and then I can get on board with being optimistic. It just takes a detour in my head but I get there eventually.

He said something on his TV special that resonated with me, “Do the next right thing.” Not the “next thing right” or “the next thing” but the NEXT RIGHT THING. Yeah, I can get behind that. Because everything we do, the decisions we make and the people we meet and the actions we take, they are all getting us somewhere. Instead of harping on how I should have done it differently or better, just DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING. Just keep moving forward. Just keep looking for the bright side.

I’m trying to shift my thinking. Feelings are not facts.* And though I might be wallowing in some heavy feelings lately, life is always changing. This is not permanent. Who knows what is around the bend? No one! So fuck it, I might as well enjoy the ride because this life is not a dress rehearsal.

The only thing I can control is my attitude which is in the process of getting a major overhaul.

“In truth, no amount of rearranging the world will make us feel worthy. The only response to adversity or misunderstanding is to be more completely who we are- to share ourselves more. Otherwise, we are always reacting and countering, and never being.” -Mark Nepo



35 thoughts on “The Next Right Thing

  1. I love! that premise and the man behind it. And you are not old! Back to the Future is AMAZING, but hi, it wasn’t made in the 1940s and therefore doesn’t get to be called “back in the day.” Did you see the recent guest spot he did on Rescue Me? I don’t typically watch the show but he was amazing, as usual.

  2. I only saw part of the special but I love him so much. His attitude/outlook on life seems so similar to mine that I can really relate.

    Family Ties is a classic? I don’t know if I am all right with being old enough to have grown up watching something that is now a classic!

  3. That sounds like a fantastic piece of advice. I may have to hold onto that one.

    As for being old, I’m right there with you. Everything I used to do or watch or listen to is “retro.” I don’t get it. MY PARENTS ARE RETRO, NOT ME!!!!

  4. I spent the day with a friend who had an aneurysm (i know it’s mispelled I hate that word) a couple years ago (at age 30) and it left me with that same type of feeling. That we can focus on good and not wallow in the sad/bad, fuck if they can do it after going through some serious major shit then why can’t we, who haven’t suffered nearly the trauma they have? It is about the attitude and yeah it’s going to be hard to make that shift, but I’m going to start by trying to wake up every morning and think about what things/people I am grateful for having in my life. Maybe that will help kick start me.

  5. gosh i find M.J.Fox so inspiring too. i have his special saved on DVR from last week to finally get to.

    also!? i FINALLY got the book in the mail yesterday that you recommended. thank you so much; im loving it.

  6. Wow. I’m also closer to 40 than I am to 30. I hadn’t even thought about that until you mentioned it. Back To The Future and The Goonies are considered ‘retro’? Good lord we *are* getting old.

  7. I am another one in the “I love Michael J Fox” brigade. He’s been a hero to me for most of my life (because I? am kind of a nerd like that). The special was really good. I haven’t read his latest book yet, but it is sitting on the shelf. My biggest “holy crap, I’m getting old” moment came a few years ago when I was still working at Major Chain Bookstore and one of my coworkers asked me who Cyndi Lauper was. Part my brain exploded that day.

  8. I had to ask my new dentist how old he was ‘cuz he didn’t look older than 21. He’s 26. And FAMILY TIES is a bit retro since I watched it when I was in high school and summer 2010 will be my 25th high school reunion!

  9. Do the next right thing… love it

    You know, I remember when I was 20 and people used to look at me funny when I referred to stuff from the 70s as “classic” — I was at a work thing and one of the younger staff (he’s 25) said he’s put on some oldies… it was stuff he’d d/led from the 90s. I remember when it was new.

    Also — it’s become funny when I swear. It never used to be.

  10. That “doing the next right thing” sounds like it’s from this motivational book I recently read: “Perfectly Yourself” by Matthew Kelly. Wonder if he read it, it was one of the “9 Principles”…

  11. My new favorite mantra came from a co-worker this week–“It’s a problem, but it’s not MY problem.”

    Also, if it wasn’t so far I would send my dad to your dentist because I think he could talk about golf just about that much if not more.

  12. That “Feelings are not Facts” needs to be made into a fridge magnet, coffee mug, notebook, and pillow. Seriously. Because those are the things that I grab when I feel shitty. Can you imagine reaching for the freezer door when you feel like crap and seeing “feelings are not facts” in your face?
    Brilliant statement.

  13. 1) Love, love, LOVE Michael J. Fox! He is just as you say–inspiring.

    2) I think that for the most part, it’s true…you have to choose to be happy. You have to choose to move forward given whatever cards you’re dealt. Some days that’s harder than others and DEFINITELY easier said than done.

    3) I’m 36 (almost 37) and I don’t like that when a “new” trend or fad comes out (that’s really just a revamped past one) I am old enough to remember the original. It just pisses me off.

  14. Totally random but I still laugh at the “her vagina needs to breath” post. Out of no where I started thinking about it today and started laughing to myself.

  15. Michael J Fox is a sweetie. I read his autobiography a few years back and just adored it. He does have a great attitude. But he wallowed for a time, too, and I think we all deserve some wallowing time, as long as it doesn’t drag on too long. I’m only twenty-six and the “Back to the Future” movies were and still are my favourite films! I’m old already? 😉 Actually I do feel old been as the 80’s have had a revival and my younger sister is dressing in clothes I did when I was a child!

  16. I saw Michael J. Fox on The View to promote his book and TV special, and I have to admit that I was very humbled by what he says and does. He’s just amazing. But what made me feel old was when they showed clips of Family Ties and Back to the Future and I realized how much he’s aged 🙂

  17. I saw that special. It was very inspiring. A good attitude to choose.

    btw – if YOU feel old, how do you think that makes ME feel? 😉

  18. Michael J. Fox is absolutely amazing, and I’m glad you’re finding some inspiration in him. I find inspiration in you!

  19. This is a great post. It seems we are always telling ourselves stories, once I learned that fact, I started telling myself better stories, ones with happy endings :-).

  20. Pingback: Anticipate « Sizzle Says

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