Zen Slaps from a Cancer Warrior is the irreverent memoir of a passionate photographer/writer fighting cancer on his own terms, while living a love story. James Hockings is a witty and sometimes profound companion for anyone facing a life-threatening disease. He has written a soulful answer to Hitchens' Mortality.
For Jim Hockings at 64, life was very good indeed. The respected photographer had launched a writing career with the 1960's novel The Redemption of Danny Harper, with more books to follow. In excellent health, the amateur distance runner had overcome prostate cancer ten years earlier, largely through his own research. Best of all, he had met the love of his life and looked forward to a wonderful future with her by his side.
Then cancer attacked again, on a new front.
Here is his spirited counter attack in real time: provocative essays, selected personal correspondence and cancer forum postings, arranged in chronological order, with occasional reactions from his wife, doctor and friends.
Be warned: this is a man who commissioned a statue of Robert Crumb's underground cartoon character Mr. Natural for his gravestone.
I love making morbid jokes that no one expects from someone labouring under a death sentence. The unexpected Zen slap that wakes the student up briefly to alternate ways of thinking…
But Zen Slaps also includes his essay “On the Ability to Love” after a visit to a cancer clinic. After witnessing the “haunted looks of people whose worst nightmare had just come true,” Jim saw for each person
…An opportunity to teach the 'immortals' still living in their fantasy world what it really means to be a man or a woman. Not by becoming some vision of perfection or bravery — not in the guise of a noble suffering saint, but by becoming a mortal human, stripped of all the trappings and vanities — naked in an uncaring universe and still able to create meaning, still able to give and still able to love…
If you are living in ‘cancer world’, know that Jim Hockings is on your side.