Michael J. Fox got a tattoo on his forearm for a meaningful reason: Here's the 'long story' behind his ink

You can't, unfortunately, travel back in time to undo bad tattoos -- so before getting inked, MIchael J. Fox put years of thought into his.

Back in January, Fox, 57, posted an Instagram of his brand-new forearm tattoo, captioning it, "First tattoo, sea turtle, long story."

The actor explained the significance of his new body art to Fortune during its Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego this week.

"It was New Year's 1999, and I went swimming and I saw a turtle, kind of a damaged little turtle," Fox recalled. "And I followed him around for awhile. And I came out, and I decided to start the foundation."

The turtle is shown swimming through five hoops, representing Fox's five decades of life, as well as "the idea of emerging and coming into something new all the time," he said. 

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Michael J. Fox on Instagram
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Michael J. Fox on Instagram
First tattoo, sea turtle, long story
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The photo is just one of a few dozen personal snaps Fox has shared on Instagram. In March, he posted a sweet, sunny photo with wife Tracy Pollan, who he wed more than 30 years ago.

The couple wed just a few years before Fox would be diagnosed with Parkinson's, a battle he would keep private until the late '90s.

During his Fortune sit-down, Fox said he's been surprised by a few things during his decades with the disease, not the least of which being: "I'm still standing."

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Michael J. Fox and his children at annual Parkinson's gala
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Michael J. Fox and his children at annual Parkinson's gala
Sam Michael Fox with mother Tracy Pollan and father Michael J. Fox (Photo by KMazur/WireImage for BWR Public Relations)
Michael J. Fox and Sam Michael Fox at the The Waldorf Astoria Grand Ballroom in New York City, New York (Photo by Djamilla Rosa Cochran/WireImage)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 1: (R-L) Actor Michael J. Fox, actress Tracy Pollen and Sam Fox attend 'A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Cure Parkinson's' benefit gala for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers December 1, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Wintrow/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 21: Schuyler Fox, Aquinnah Fox, Michael J. Fox, Tracy Pollan and Sam Fox attend the 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson's' benefit at The Waldorf Astoria Hotel on November 21, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12: (L-R) Schuyler Fox, Actor Michael J. Fox and his wife Tracy Pollan, Sam Fox and Aquinnah Fox at the 2011 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Cure Parkinson's event at The Waldorf=Astoria on November 12, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: (L-R) Schuyler Fox, Sam Fox, Tracy Pollan, Michael J. Fox and Aquinnah Fox on the red carpet at the 2012 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Cure Parkinson's event at The Waldorf=Astoria on November 10, 2012 in New York City benefitting The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/MJF2012/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: (L-R) Aquinnah Fox, Sam Fox, Tracy Pollan, Michael J. Fox and Schuyler Fox on the red carpet at the 2012 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Cure Parkinson's event at The Waldorf=Astoria on November 10, 2012 in New York City benefitting The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Esme Fox, Michael J. Fox, Tracy Pollan and Sam Fox attend 2013 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Cure Parkinson's at The Waldorf=Astoria on November 9, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 22: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) (L-R) Aquinnah Fox, Michael J. Fox, Phyllis Piper Fox, Tracy Pollan, Esme Fox, and Sam Michael Fox attend 2014 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Cure Parkinson's at The Waldorf=Astoria on November 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/MJF2014/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 11: Sam Michael Fox, Esme Annabelle Fox, Schuyler Frances Fox and Aquinnah Kathleen Fox attend the 2017 a funny thing happened on the way to cure Parkinson's benefitting The Michael J. Fox Foundation at the Hilton New York on November 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: (L-R) Sam Michael Fox, Tracy Pollan, Michael J. Fox and Esme Fox attend the Michael J. Fox Foundation A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Cure Parkinsons Gala at The Waldorf=Astoria on November 14, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/MJF2015/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12: Sam Michael Fox, actress Tracy Pollan, actor Michael J. Fox and Esme Annabelle Fox attend the 2016 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Cure Parkinson's at The Waldorf Astoria on November 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 11: (L-R) Schuyler Frances Fox, Esmé Annabelle Fox, Michael J. Fox, Tracy Pollan, Sam Michael Fox and Aquinnah Kathleen Fox attend the 2017 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson's event at the Hilton New York on November 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 11: Sam Michael Fox, Esme Annabelle Fox, Michael J. Fox, Tracy Pollan, Schuyler Frances Fox and Aquinnah Kathleen Fox attend the 2017 a funny thing happened on the way to cure Parkinson's benefitting The Michael J. Fox Foundation at the Hilton New York on November 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Schuyler Frances Fox, Aquinnah Kathleen Fox, Michael J. Fox, Tracy Pollan, Sam Michael Fox, and Esme Annabelle Fox on the red carpet of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Cure Parkinson's benefitting The Michael J. Fox Foundation at the Hilton New York on November 10, 2018. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: (L-R) Schuyler Frances Fox, Aquinnah Kathleen Fox, Michael J. Fox, Tracy Pollan, Sam Michael Fox and Esme Annabelle Fox attend A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson's 2018 at the Hilton New York on November 10, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
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