Cancer, the Pandemic, America at Sea & Buddhism.

In December, 2020, my wife Elizabeth passed away after struggling for two years with pancreatic cancer and stroke. In addition, during this time, the pandemic was raging, and America was struggling with anger, chaos, and political and cultural division, in a struggle to salvage its own identity and survival.

As the cancer was spreading through my wife’s body, political and cultural derangement and the virus were metastasizing throughout the fabric of our nation.

My new book, “Capricorn & Cancer”, is the story of our 50-year marriage together, as well as a diary of our struggle with the cancer, and thoughts on the day-to-day turmoil and insanity afflicting our country.

At the heart of it all, at the very core, is the question of who we are; and on an even deeper level, the problem of death.

As a Buddhist, how could we approach this disease, and how could we approach death? And how could we view with optimism and hope the dark times our country is going through? And, finally, how to keep faith with life, and sustain hope and joy, now that she is gone?

We are in a time of deep transformation. There is no going back. Here in America, we will rise into a new awareness of who we are on this planet Earth, or we will fracture to pieces in a hell of anger and distrust and war.

We are all connected. We are one humanity. Each of us is co-existent with the potential and power of the universe, straining to expand and give expression to the boundless compassionate intent of Life itself.

Life and death, and you and I, dancing about each other, brothers and sisters in eternity.
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James Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of eleven non-fiction books

His latest book,“Capricorn & Cancer”, is available online in paperback and ebook format from Amazon.com, and in ebook format from other major online booksellers.

To arrange talks, visit the author’s speaker page.

In the End,What’s Important?

At the end of 2020, about a month before my wife Elizabeth passed away after a two-year struggle with pancreatic cancer and stroke, I was helping her out of bed one night and accidentally brushed against a beautiful lamp which had belonged to Elizabeth’s mother, and which she treasured. The lamp fell to the floor and shattered to pieces.

Very calmly, Elizabeth remarked: “Don’t worry. It’s nothing. What’s important are relationships. What’s important are people.”

Death, and the confrontation with death, certainly brings about an ordering of priorities. One’s focus narrows, to what is really important. Things like material possessions, money and status fade in relation to the real treasures, treasures of the heart.

I was thinking today of a woman Elizabeth and I knew about ten years ago while we were living in Oregon. She was in her seventies, struggling with continuing serious health and financial problems, whose spirit was simply indomitable. Her daughter, in her thirties, was extremely intelligent, but often in and out of jail because of drugs. Her son was much overweight and was mentally impaired, though he held a simple job and simply loved to eat, especially extravagant deserts, and who appeared to really love his life. Together they were a family, and the mother held them together with deep courage and love amid all their troubles and problems. They exhibited an abundance of treasures of the heart. Theirs was a story of real greatness.

These are the affairs of the heart that continue to shine more brightly as time moves on, even though death has taken away the outer trappings and distractions. These are the treasures we carry forward, beyond the rhythms of life and death, that can never be destroyed.
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James Hilgendorf is the author of eleven non-fiction books, his latest being “Capricorn & Cancer”, a story of love and marriage, life and death, and the struggle for America’s dream amid the pandemic.

In their 50th year of marriage, both the author and his wife, Elizabeth, waged an ongoing battle against Elizabeth’s pancreatic cancer and stroke.

Meanwhile, America itself was waging a war of its own – political, economic, and social division and a devastating viral attack – that tore apart the fabric of our nation, threatening the end of our national identity.

Who are we? Where are we headed?

Life and death, moving about each other, searching for answers and a way forward.

A time of deep transformation.

To purchase a copy of “Capricorn & Cancer”, in paperback or e-book format, visit your favorite online bookseller.

The Struggle to Awaken to a Larger Life

The carnage of a Trump Presidency, the division and chaos and twisting of the truth, have brought us to a point of deep introspection, forcing all of us, even against our will, to confront the question of who we really are, both as individuals and as a nation.

It seems clear that we are going to have to seek out and find new avenues of being, or we are going to continue plummeting down dark tunnels toward disastrous consequences. There is no going back, and the old ways no longer work.

The United States, as well as the world, has been experimenting with a reversion to isolationism, and a retreat into the self. Brexit, and a cutting off of relationships; and Trumpism, with its severing of ties with any but an inner circle of loyal friends, has led, finally, to its logical conclusion: economic and social chaos, and a vicious, deadly pandemic of epic proportions.

Yes, the virus, the pandemic, also.

Because Life, in the largest sense, will not support a withdrawal into the self. Life is always straining beyond the self, to the whole, to the individual awakening within to the vast web of ties with others, to compassion as broad as the universe itself, beyond discrimination, beyond borders, beyond names and identities, to a realization and actualization of identity with everyone and everything, compassion for one’s own life and the life of the universe itself, as one and the same person, indistinguishable.

To go against this tide, to retreat into the self, personally or as a nation, is to extol and encourage greed and self-centeredness, and the results come, as they do now, in blatant retribution, of a virus, of destruction, of loss and hunger and deprivation.

Greed breeds pestilence. Discrimination breeds pestilence. Hatred and violence breed a deadly virus ravaging our lives.

The pressing need is to awaken to a larger life, encompassing the universe itself, and this can only take place within the life of the individual. Change the social, economic, and political structures all you want, nothing will resolve itself until each person, one by one, two by two, transform themselves from within.

How is this to occur? We need a new vision of life, a new philosophy, a new religion to point the way – a religion anchored upon a belief in the profound potential of life residing within each person’s life; a religion beyond all borders, beyond race and ethnicity and nationality and gender and religious identity, that has the power to recognize and unleash the boundless power of Life itself, oriented not towards the self and egoism, but towards others, towards all of Life, towards humanity, centered upon the quest for the happiness of each and every member of the human race.

New winds are blowing – blowing away all the dead leaves of an immense past, making way for a totally new chapter in humanity’s history, opening also boundless new avenues of being for the individual, for dreams that resonate and are attuned to this reaching of Life for its truest and fullest expression and potential.

America, with all its troubles and disillusion and division and chaos, is where this new world will now unfold, spreading to the rest of the globe a new expansion of the spirit, new dreams, new paths of growth and celebration.

The Buddha is coming to America.
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James Hilgendorf is the author of eleven non-fiction books, his latest being “Capricorn & Cancer”, a story of love and marriage, life and death, and the struggle for America’s dream amid the pandemic.

In their 50th year of marriage, both the author and his wife, Elizabeth, waged an ongoing battle against Elizabeth’s pancreatic cancer and stroke.

Meanwhile, America itself was waging a war of its own – political, economic, and social division and a devastating viral attack – that tore apart the fabric of our nation, threatening the end of our national identity.

Who are we? Where are we headed?

Life and death, moving about each other, searching for answers and a way forward.

A time of deep transformation.

To purchase a copy of “Capricorn & Cancer”, in paperback or e-book format, visit your favorite online bookseller.

The Black Death, the Coronavirus Pandemic, & the Renaissance of America.

During the 14th century, the plague, or Black Death, ravaged all of Europe, Asia, and northern Africa, causing enormous upheavals in all areas of society.

Its peak occurred around the years 1347-1350. During these years, upwards of two hundred million people died of the plague. Europe, alone, lost perhaps half of its population. The most fatal pandemic in recorded human history, it marked the end of an era.

Yet out of this wide-spread devastation, there slowly emerged a new world, and a new world-view.

From Florence, Italy, in the Tuscany region, there issued forth the Italian Renaissance, one of the greatest epochs in human history that transformed existing social structures and led to wide-ranging social, economic, cultural and religious changes, along with monumental achievements in painting, architecture, sculpture, literature, music, philosophy, science, technology, and exploration. The Renaissance spawned a new birth of humanism, based on reason and a belief in the boundless potential of the human spirit, that eventually spread out to other countries and transformed the world.

Today we are facing a world-wide pandemic, unprecedented in scope in modern times, whose impact is impossible to predict at this time.

At the same time, as with the period of the Black Death and the ensuing Renaissance, we are entering a time of deep, transformational change.

Out of the worldwide fracturing of identities, out of the old dying politics, dying economics, dying beliefs, something new – barely recognizable as yet – is emerging.

It is a vision of who we are together on this planet Earth.

We are divided now, of necessity isolated by this virus, separated into six-foot living spaces; but a new world is coming, with America at the center.

It is the great Dream that is now, and has always been, at the heart of America – the dream of justice and respect and compassion and utter remembrance of the dreams of countless others who have come before – the unnoticed, the oppressed, the voiceless – a dream of the heart and of the world’s peoples as one that has been aching for expression since the dawn of sun in the very first day of the first light.

This is the unremitting mission of America, to foster and bring forth this Dream and be a beacon of hope to the world.

Together, with hope and conviction, there is nothing we cannot do.

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James Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of eleven non-fiction books, his latest titled “Capricorn & Cancer”.

In their 50th year of marriage, both the author and his wife, Elizabeth, waged an ongoing two-year battle against Elizabeth’s pancreatic cancer and stroke.

Meanwhile, America itself was waging a war of it own – political, economic, and social division and a devastating viral attack – that was tearing apart the fabric of our nation, threatening the end of our national identity.

“Capricorn & Cancer is available in paperback or ebook format from Amazon.com, and in ebook format from other major online booksellers.

What’s Next for America?

A few months ago, my wife Elizabeth of 50 years passed away after a two-year struggle with pancreatic cancer and stroke.

For 2020, we battled not only the disease, but political chaos and a deadly pandemic. The covid virus was raging and metastasizing throughout the body politic of America.

Love and marriage, life and death, and an America fractured in its identity and gasping in its own death throes.

Who are we? What is the way forward?

Nothing will be the same. We may pose in the same ways through the coming days, but deep down the ground is shaking, filled with anxious tremors.

We have come to a time of deep transformation.

I wrote this book about our lives together, and our experience facing death, yet surmounting death; and an America dying yet resuscitating and coming back to life again to revive in perennial form the original and eternal dream of America.

There are no endings, neither for our love, nor for America. There is always a way through.

We wrote this book for you, as a gift of love.
______________________________

James Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of eleven non-fiction books

“Capricorn & Cancer is available online in paperback and ebook format from Amazon.com, and in ebook format from other major online booksellers.

Here is a link to all the sites.

Capricorn & Cancer – A Love Poem Written upon my Wife’s Passing

CAPRICORN & CANCER

Love is born out of opposites colliding.

Look at the universe, with its swirling galaxies of stars, whole nebulae clashing and devouring phalanxes of suns. It is not a peaceful picture.

We advance by facing that which we do not know.

The love that becomes the strongest is the love that grows by circling each other in contrapuntal rhythms, held in place by an inward and outward attraction perfectly balanced, like moons circling a planet, like planets a sun.

As planets arc through their journey, you can hear them crying and sighing, the tension of irrepressible joy.

I never knew you, and did not ask for your presence, yet from out the darkness and eternity, you appear, and we become caught up in tides of memories and fate from an unfathomable past.

We are Capricorn and Cancer. We are winter and summer. We are night and day.

Tears and laughter, fondness and spite, pulling at the orbits of each other, circling in the gravity of old bonds.

Merging, breaking down disparate identities, becoming one.

Love is born of a battle, no easy quest this one, no easy prize.

We merge and shine like the sun.


James Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of eleven non-fiction books, his latest titled “Capricorn & Cancer”.

In their 50th year of marriage, both the author and his wife, Elizabeth, wage an ongoing battle against Elizabeth’s pancreatic cancer and stroke.

Meanwhile, America itself is waging a war of it own – political, economic, and social division and a devastating viral attack – that are tearing apart the fabric of our nation, threatening the end of our national identity.

Who are we? Where are we headed?

Life and death, moving about each other, searching for answers and a way forward.

A time of deep transformation.

Purchase the book, “Capricorn & Cancer”, in paperback or ebook, at your favorite online bookseller.

An Elephant Poem

ELEPHANT TIME

Ah, the elephants
Swinging their trunks,
Then dangling along in the dirt.
Two giants, side by side
Moving to one another,
Slowly, slowly, remembering.
One trunk goes up against
The other’s head, listening,
Sensing, transmitting
Memories from long ago.
Their eyes are dark.
They center themselves in an
Elephant universe,
Elephant time.
Feeling so deep it shatters
The isolate skies.
They stand and look,

Making us remember
Deep within ourselves,
Our own elephant lives.
A world of elephants.
Unspoken words where
There is no speaking,
Only silent, deep emotions
And turnings of the
Universal heart.


James Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of eleven non-fiction books, available in paperback of ebook format from your favorite online bookseller.

His latest is “Capricorn & Cancer“, a story of love and marriage, life and death, and a way forward amid the pandemic.

Surmounting Death

On Christmas Day, 2018, my wife Elizabeth underwent a three-and-a-half hour operation to remove malignant pancreatic cancer from her pancreas. The operation is known as the Whipple procedure. Part of her pancreas was removed, along with her gall bladder and some sections of her intestines, and a new hookup of her internal organs was implemented. A week later, she was up and about, and we attended a large New Year’s Day celebration.

This was the beginning of a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer that ended, with a stroke, on December 8th, 2020.

In 2020, Elizabeth and I were in our 50th year of an amazing and wonderful marriage, and we were also moving, along with hundreds of millions of others, through the mire of division and chaos of an America also in a death struggle with its own identity and future.

A time of deep transformation.

For America: Who are we? Where are we going? And for myself: How to come to grips, finally, with the loss of someone so close and so beloved as to be my very self.

These are the themes many of us are encountering.

I’ve put together the experience of our fifty year marriage, as well as our struggle with the cancer and a diary of day-to-day thoughts about what we were going through and what our country was going through, into a book, titled “Capricorn & Cancer”. I’m the Capricorn, and Elizabeth was the Cancer, and we were in many ways total opposites, and at the same time we created a marriage that brought us together in an amazing way as one.

The battle, for me, as for America, was to find a way forward. That’s what this book is about.

It is a book of love and marriage, of life and death, and a book also of hope and vision and joy.

Together, Elizabeth and I lived our experience and wrote this book for you – as a gift of love and encouragement in the dark hours.

There is always a way through.
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“Capricorn & Cancer” is now available online as a paperback and ebook from Amazon.com , or as an ebook from other major online booksellers.

James Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of eleven non-fiction books.

Our Dreams are the Dreams of Life.

Through pursuing our dreams, we learn to believe in ourselves. We gain power. We come to realize that nothing is impossible.

________________________________________

James Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of eleven non-fiction books.

His latest book is “Capricorn & Cancer”, a story of love and marriage amid the pandemic.

In their 50th year of marriage, both the author and his wife, Elizabeth, wage an ongoing battle against Elizabeth’s pancreatic cancer and stroke.

Meanwhile, America itself is waging a war of it own – political, economic, and social division and a devastating viral attack – that are tearing apart the fabric of our nation, threatening the end of our national identity.

Who are we? Where are we headed?

Life and death, moving about each other, searching for answers and a way forward.

A time of deep transformation.

Purchase the book, “Capricorn & Cancer” at your favorite online bookseller.

Love, Marriage, & Life & Death Amid the Pandemic

Transformation is coming to America. Profound changes are underway.

In the midst of an unprecedented viral pandemic, people are suffering from other growing human diseases – hopelessness, lack of meaning, despair, powerlessness.

Who are we?

In 2018, my wife Elizabeth was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer – a deadly, aggressive cancer – and for two years, up to and beyond the tumultuous Presidential election of 2020, we faced this threat.

We were approaching our 50th year of an extraordinary marriage. We loved each other, we loved to be with each other.

This new book – “Capricorn & Cancer” – by author James Hilgendorf, is a record of those days, and a look back over their life together also.

In the final analysis, it is a story of personal transformation, and of hope, amid seeming devastation. Alongside the destruction and transformation taking place within the social, economic, and political chaos gathering in America, it is a story of discovering new levels of being.

It is a story we are all in the process of writing, personally and as a country.

It is a story of eternity.
_______________________

James Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of eleven non-fiction books.

“Capricorn & Cancer” is now available in digital e-book format from your favorite online bookseller.