Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Third Act

For over 2500 years, Buddhists have studied the question of how one can best live in the presence of death. In a sense, a life-threatening disease makes Buddhists of us all, waking us from the illusion of immortality, suddenly and from that time forth.

As some of you know, I’ve been dealing with a rare biliary cancer for many months. It has already taken my gall bladder, bile duct and most of my liver…and it’s not done yet. It looks like in a matter of weeks I’ll be facing chemotherapy, in an attempt to at least slow its progress.

I originally came to Buddhism as a result of a Near Death Experience, or what I now call the Bodhicitta Awakening of arousing the mind of enlightenment. So for decades now, I’ve been studying the matter of living and dying. I’m not afraid of death. But I do fear pain, nausea, and diminished capacities.

Despite this I have been surrounded by loving friends and family. Above all else, I’ve been blessed with my beautiful granddaughter Marisa Alegria.

I feel I have so much to be thankful for….and whenever my time comes, I will not have a lengthy list of regrets, of opportunities missed or things left undone. As a matter of fact, my partner Jim and I are steaming away on the Stardance screenplay. With luck I’ll be there for its premiere.

There are many things I need as I prepare for my third act—supplements, prescription drugs, counseling, expensive alternative therapies, etc—and they all cost money…money I don’t have. So, after all these months of being silent and private about my illness, I recently said yes to my close friend Michelle Meyrink when she asked if she could organize a benefit concert for me.
Others have since jumped in, including my Vancouver Buddhist sangha, Mountain Rain Zen Community, and a dear friend in Florida, Jan Schroeder, who has been auctioning donated items (such as rare Babylon 5 scripts and other SF memorabilia) on eBay for me. Goods or services can be donated for the auction by contacting Jan at Several other methods of helping out, including a straightforward PayPal donation account, can be found at

Another way to help would be to buy our books from Amazon by clicking-through from Spider's site, so we can get the affiliate commission. We’ve spent decades holding up visions of humankind’s highest evolutionary potential while entertaining you enough to keep you turning pages.

Any help you can offer is gratefully appreciated by Spider and me.

In the meantime, I continue to work on, as Roshi Joan Halifax titled her latest book, BEING WITH DYING: Cultivating Compassion And Fearlessness In The Presence of Death. Which aptly describes the human condition, don’t you think?


Baylink said...

You betcha we will. I supposed I shouldn't be surprised you know Michelle, knowing you both live on Bowen. Was a big Jordan fan back in the day.

The paypal link over on that page, alas, doesn't seem to work. I left a comment there for someone to check it, but I figure it can't hurt to mention it here as well.

Hang in there, Jeanne. Sometimes the choices aren't very hard... they just look that way to you.

Jeanne Robinson said...

Thanks for alerting me to the fact that the paypal link didn't work. it's now fixed, thanks to my brilliant, kind, and talented partner, Jim.

I do intend to stick around for a while. I want to shower my granddaughter with unconditional love for as long as possible.

Mark said...

Every positive thought I know how to generate aimed your way, Jeanne. I'll be hitting the bookstore this weekend. Best of luck, and zen hugs. said...

Gods bless; you've got a beautiful granddaughter there, and I hope everything goes as well as possible. Went through breast cancer myself a couple years ago and am still dealing with the fallout; no fun at all. What I can do to help, I will; and I hope you & yours have many more years together.

editrx said...

Oh Jeanne, Elric and I (this is Nancy Hanger) had no idea. Our thoughts are with you, certainly, and we'll see what we can help with given our own sort of odd meager funds. I feel so terrible that I've been out of touch since leaving Baen. Know that we are here to do what we can for both you and Spider.

Jenn McWhorter said...


My husband and I met as a result of our love for Spider's Callahan's books. We were both drawn to the IRC Callahan's place, and that's where we found each other.

We owe you both. And we'll be clicking that Paypal link tonight.

Mom said...

I've put you in my Reiki box. May the energy comfort you where ever your path takes you.
Lisa Harrigan

Kristin said...

Hi - lots of love and good wishes you are sweet. even though it has been several years sinc I saw you... I know. I tried to paypal donate but it didn't go through somehow maybe because it was frorm the US? had better try again.

I got my Amazon order: multiple copies of your husband's VERY BAD DEATHS and VERY HARD CHOICES - that was only because I accidentally clicked too many times and put $47 worth in my cart! I already told Spider this but it is kind of a shame if you get more from affiliating with an online bookstore (which has destroyed many independent stores) than you do in royalties. I took the books to Steve Savitzky's house (he is a filksinger whose guitar spider borrowed once) and handed the extra ones out to all comers. After reading the first chapter of VBD i am praying the situation in that does NOT come true for real!


Kristin R.

Kevin Scott said...

What exactly is the type of cancer you have? What is your TNM (tumor, node, metastases) status? Just a guy who knows a little bit about cancer research.

spxtn said...

Hi, Jeanne,
The test footage for Stardancer is a revelation, especially the section with lotus-crossed legs, and what it achieves in the movement effects of the pelvis and spine, the skeletal expression of the torso. And I do also mean expression as in emotion... new ones, exceeding my imagination of the Stardance as I read it. Many thanks to you and Spider for bringing us this vision and nourishing it onward.
It contains an important reminder to earthlings on the brink of space, not much noted in the span of Sci-Fi or elsewhere; not just our will to explore, exploit, not just our ability to adapt, endure, but our inclination to create art, to develop new work under new conditions.
The tests with this beautiful dancer-yogini are encouraging beyond words. Stardancer put the human body in space in this way as fiction. How amazing we can now see visualized the fiction as act. (Jules Verne would comprehend this achievement of the foreseen into the seen-- and even into the scene.) It should clearly be proposed for 3-D filming.
May the wisdom of your faith sustain you. It seems to me the companion of choice in the journey.
I add dance -- earthdance-- memories of an earlier time in Bennington studios and meeting you in Vancouver. Evidently, you are an unforgettable earthdancer, and have taken dance to the heights. Congratulations and thank you.

Steve Paxton