Traveling to a New America – Fresno, California

Traveling to a New America – Fresno, California

Tree of Life Restaurant Fresno CaliforniaLast week, my wife Elizabeth and I were in Fresno, California, promoting my books and talking to people about their feelings about America.  For lunch, we stopped at a really lovely cafe and bakery, called Tree of Life, where we had delicious, cold Gazpacho soup with a chicken salad sandwich.  This place is a gem.

One of the people we met on the street that day was Jan.  We sat and talked and what she had to say about America is posted on our Facebook Page here.

When I think of Fresno, I think of big agriculture and almonds.  I also think of the great novelist, playwright and short story writer, William Saroyan, who was born in Fresno and lived here off and on throughout his life.

Many years ago, I remember reading something Saroyan had written about his hometown of Fresno.  He said he spent his early years with his main thought being how to get out of Fresno.  But then, having lived in New York and London and Paris, he returned to Fresno and bought a house there, discovering that New York was Fresno all over again.

I think he meant that people are the same the world over.  And I think he meant something similar to the Buddhist concept of karma, that you carry yourself and your happiness or unhappiness with you wherever you go, no matter where you go, and that the only way to truly change your state of happiness is to change yourself from within.

About Fresno, he wrote:

“Fresno is a good place. It’s the world, and how good can the world be in any case, wherever you go? How much different from Fresno is Paris? If you are there, you are there, and you can see and feel a culture, and you can see and feel a culture in Fresno, too.

“I would not care to belittle anything about Fresno, and I would prefer to cherish everything about it, and to seek to try to understand those elements which sometimes really bother people and bothered me, and don’t bother me now. Because the only annoyance which is worthy of us has got to be the large annoyance of failure, of enormous failure, and that is inevitable in any case. And so we have to be charitable towards ourselves so that we can be charitable towards everybody else.”

Saroyan wrote prolifically, receiving the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play, “The Time of Your Life”, and an Academy Award for Best Story for the film adaptation of his novel “The Human Comedy.”

A New Myth for America BuddhismJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for America.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting people and giving talks, under the banner of “Traveling to a New America.

Follow his journey on his Facebook Page.

To arrange talks, contact the author.

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