Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I'm back in the saddle....Happy New Year!

Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living. - Anais Nin

I have been remembering my dreams. Occasionally, they involve film directors, among them Ron Howard, of whom I have never been particularly fond, and Stephen Spielberg who is in my mind a genius. Though the details were a little hazy in my directors’ dream, Spielberg and I (naturally) shared a very exciting adventure, something along the lines of Indiana Jones and the last Crusade.

Last night, I had to choose between two jobs: the last one I had in the real world, working for public television and the job before that, where I worked for an independent record company. This dream was clearer, and the images were vivid in my mind, probably because it occurred just while the alarm was going off this morning.

What is always true in these menageries of my imagination is that I am fully functional, the way it was many years ago, and I no longer have to worry about the challenges of multiple sclerosis. Occasionally, when I wake from these exhilarating dreams, I momentarily forget that I have MS. Because I can move about so freely in my dreams, there is a sense in the early-morning fog between slumber and wakefulness that maybe, just maybe, I can get out of bed in the conventional way. Just throw my legs over the side and stand up in order to go to the bathroom.

 On these days, it takes me a few moments to recalibrate and return to the reality of my everyday life. I won’t go into all the details that living with a progressive disease entails, but it can—and does—wreak havoc upon the minutia of my everyday life. Basic activities most people take for absolute granted pose considerable challenges for me.

Some early mornings, when I am lying in bed, I see a black-and-white image from an old movie of myself in bed and my double standing over me, fully functional as if he could live my life for me. We never talk, but it is obvious we are somehow the same person.

So you can certainly understand why I relish my dream life. It provides me with an opportunity to escape from reality. Now don’t get me wrong -- I am not looking for sympathy, especially not pity. But it sure is nice in the middle of the night or in the early hours of the morning to have a place to go free of the obstacles I otherwise have to face.

This brings up another issue many of us afflicted with multiple sclerosis have to face: as the disease affects our lives, to what extent must we sacrifice or at the very least adjust our real-life dreams? Personally, I’ve never had a long view of how my life was supposed to unwind. As a young person newly out of college, I was fearless. If I saw something I wanted, I went for it. Nothing stood in my way. And for about 15 years, that was the way I operated, from publishing to music to television. While there were occasional bumps in the road, I was always moving forward with my eye on the prize.

As my disease began to show symptoms and I started using a cane, some people told me to “take it slow.” This has never been my nature. So I kept going, now and then falling, but getting right back up again (the catchy and very fitting Chumbawamba song “Tubthumping” – “I get knocked down but I get up again, you’re never going to keep me down” – was constantly playing in my head). Inevitably, the disease did catch up with me. I realized I had to slow down and accept the consequences of living with MS. They say denial is a reasonable coping mechanism for facing MS or other diseases. I don't think I was ever really in denial; I was just determined to not let the disease get in my way. 

When my multiple sclerosis forced me into a kind of early retirement more than a decade ago, it was at once shocking and liberating. No longer did I have to live my life according to society’s pre-determined parameters and expectations. The Ramones song “It’s Not My Place (In the 9-to-5 World)” became the theme for this next stage of my life. Being without a traditional job was a little daunting and unsettling at first, but eventually I found a way to adapt to—and thrive in—my unique circumstances.

A few of years in, a friend of mine recommended that I become a Life Coach (see and after doing some research (and soul searching), it felt like a reasonable and fulfilling part-time profession. After several years of phone and online classes, I earned credentials to be a certified Life Coach, and through my work with my clients, I find myself rewarded in entirely unexpected ways. I get to help people improve their lives and fulfill their dreams.

Just because we have a challenging disease does not mean we should not follow through on our dreams, however unlikely they may seem. Our dreams can evolve. They probably would have anyway. Are the dreams we had when we were children the same ones we have as adults? Do I want the same things now that I wanted 20 years ago? Did I ever dream of becoming a Life Coach? Never. My disease has changed me and the way I look at the world. Twenty-five years ago would I have dreamed about finding a cure for multiple sclerosis? Since I hadn’t been diagnosed with the disease at that point, chances are not likely.

Now I have to hold on tight to that dream and hope that in my lifetime it will become a reality, that some genius will discover with a reasonable solution to this wretched disease. Until that time comes (and I believe it will), I do get out of bed and embrace each and every day, appreciating the fact that I’m still here and able to enjoy what the world has to offer.

I hope to see you all soon.

Best Wishes,

Marc Fenton


The Ramones-It's Not My Place (in the 9-5 World)