That was the touching response Michael J. Fox had to the death of Muhammad Ali, made all the more poignant by our knowledge that Fox also has Parkinson’s Disease.
What caught my ear instantly was that last part: so he could be his true self again. Fox knows, as many of us know, that we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but instead, spiritual beings having a human experience. (Thank you, French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, for that.) Fox was, in effect, saying that Ali had completed his work here, and once he left his earthly limits, his soul was free. The soul, of course, has no limits.
That spark that’s “us”
I came to the belief–an understanding, really–of the soul late in life. Catholics are kind of fuzzy on that kind of thing and it wasn’t until I began exploring spiritual matters in earnest that I understood that the soul is our essence, our true self, that little spark of spirit that makes us “us.” And once my belief in reincarnation solidified, I saw that we incarnate to grow or to play a role in someone else’s growth, but that our soul always remains the same.
Ali’s death made me think about possible reasons for his life here –at this particular time and this particular life. I wonder: if he hadn’t had Parkinson’s, would he have become as revered as he was? Oh, sure, he’d always have been looked upon as a great athlete. But this man was so much more than that. So much more.
He was a boastful man–part of his schtick was to tell everyone how great he was. But Donald Trump does the same thing and isn’t half the man Ali was.
A life’s purpose
Ali was a man of integrity–how many people could get away with saying that they could not in good conscience fight for the freedom of foreign people when their own people were still not free? Who could get away with that? And would that acceptance have lasted over time? Or as time passed, would Fox News and others pick-pick-pick at him and his conscientious objector status, trying to disgrace him and tear him down for beliefs different than theirs? I wonder. Oh, hell. I don’t wonder at all. Of course he would have been dissected into tiny little bits by the media monster.
Parkinson’s was a shield, I think, from the kind of “feet-of-clay” attack (pun unintended) that so many celebrities face in today’s media environment. Ali’s Parkinson’s made us see him as more human, more than “The Greatest” and a CO. No one dared attack this great athlete who was struck down by a cruel disease while still a relatively young man. No. We were forced to accept him and many learned from him.
Parkinson’s allowed Ali to model not clothes or golf clubs or hair products, the usual kind of celebrity model, but how someone could rise above. How they could have a full life despite a challenging illness– even appearing in front of millions of people to light the Olympic torch with full-on tremors–and no embarrassment.
Parkinson’s was part of Ali’s soul’s plan and I rather think this incarnation was for our growth more than his.
His spirit always seemed whole and complete.
Smart, brave, powerful and full of integrity, it lives on.