First off I have updated my book tour page again. Some of the specific locations for European gigs that have lacked them are now filled in, particularly in France.
I have also added info about the annual Dogen Sangha Zen retreat in Shizuoka. Since my new book is coming out in September, the organizers have moved the retreat to July. In past years people from overseas have been attending the retreats in Shizuoka. You’re always welcome to attend. It’s a good retreat. But contact the folks in Dogen Sangha Tokyo about it, not me. The contact info’s on their website.
Also, John Graves, who is now the president of Dogen Sangha Los Angeles, made this neat Sit Down and Shut Up/Shobogenzo Index. Check it out. He found all the references to specific parts of Shobogenzo in the book Sit Down And Shut Up and cross-referenced them so you could look ’em up if you wanted to. Why didn’t I do this myself? Because I am lazy, that’s why! But John did it and it is full of awesome. I’ve added it to the links section on the left as well.
I was chatting today via Skype to a friend of mine who is 21 years old. I seem to have a lot of friends considerably younger than me these days. But, then again, I never saw Nishijima interact with anyone less than twenty years his junior. Most people he hung out with were closer to forty years younger than him. Maybe it goes with the territory.
Anyway she’s got a whole lot of choices to make in life, as you do when you’re 21. And as you do when you’re 46 too. So I wrote her this:
“You have to decide what you love the most, I think. And go for that. And don’t believe people who say you can’t do it. I semi-believed those people and it really held me back. It turns out they were wrong. They’re still telling me I can’t do it even while I am actually actively doing it! This is kind of comical.”
It’s funny the things you say in response to people. I teach myself a lot that way, which is why I like doing Q&A; sessions and interviews. But it’s really true. There seem to always be naysayers who delight in cutting you down and trying to make you feel like you’re not capable. It’s important to know how to tell those people to go fuck themselves. Sometimes you have to say it politely. Sometimes you have to say it only to yourself. But it’s important to be able to say it.
Chuck Schodowski was a popular horror movie host in Cleveland, half of the teams Hoolihan and Big Chuck and later Big Chuck and Little John. He inherited his position from the great Ernie”Ghoulardi” Anderson (director Paul Thomas Anderson’s dad) who preceded him. Chuck took a lot of shit when he started because his style was very different from Ghoulardi’s.
In his book, Chuck talks about a letter he got from Ernie Anderson when this was going on. If the book wasn’t in storage I’d quote it directly instead of from my poor memory. But Ernie Anderson said something like, “If the people who are telling you you’re doing it wrong could do it themselves, they’d be doing it themselves. Guts it, baby, guts it!”
It’s good advice. We all have a role to play and there are always those around you who’ll stupidly envy you and think they could do whatever it is you do better, if only. I used to hear this kind of shit from lots of folks when I worked at Tsuburaya Productions, guys who knew that if they just got out of mom’s basement they’d do so much better marketing Ultraman than I was doing. Now I hear it from people who’d be so much better Buddhist writers if only someone would give them a book deal. But there’s a reason you’re in the position you are and those guys are not. So they can all suck it.
As for the wide world of choices… it never ends. When I was 21 I woulda figured that by age 46 I’d either have had everything worked out or I’d be dead. As it turns out neither option panned out. These days my best advice to myself is to do what I love the most, to the best of my ability to do so. Sometimes your own karma places you into a position where it seems like you have no options. But I’ve stopped believing that. There’s always some way to make whatever situation you find yourself in into a place you want to be. I’ve even managed to do this in endless traffic jams on the Los Angeles freeway system, or in a hospital bed with kidney stones so bad I thought the pain alone might kill me.
I made a lot of mistakes because I half-believed those who said I couldn’t ever accomplish the things I truly wanted to do. I majored in history in college not because I liked it that much, but because I believed those who told me I’d never be able to land a career in the film business. Much less in the film business in Japan making giant monster movies. That I’d have far better of a chance getting a job teaching history in high school. All those people can suck it.
And still there they are! Look in the comments section of this very blog and you’ll still find people telling me I can’t do what I am already doing. They’re clever enough not to put it in those words. But that’s the message. They can suck it too.
When they tell you the same thing, just remember they can suck yours as well.
Guts it, baby.