Here I am again in Akron, Ohio, USA. My first Zen teacher used to say that Northeast Ohio was like a black hole. No matter how far away you get from it, it sucks you back in.
It's freezing cold outside. Intensely, unbelievably cold. But the sky is blue and the sun is shining. I can even hear a few birds. Are there birds insane enough to stay this far north at this time of year? I guess there are. Someone is even colder than me.
This is the start of my Massive Midwest Tour. The dates are as follows:
• February 9, 2011 (Wed) 10 PM Akron, OH: Zero Defex at The Matinee 812 W. Market St. Akron, OH
• February 15, 2011 (Tues) 7:30 PM Lawrence, KS: Kansas Zen Center 423 New York St, Lawrence, KS 66044
• February 17, 2011 (Thu) 7:30 PM Kansas City, MO: Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 W. 47th St., Kansas City, MO 64112
• February 20, 2011 (Sun) 9:50 AM Cedar Rapids, IA: Cedar Rapids Zen Center 1618 Bever Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA (All Day Zazen, begins at 9 AM, talk at 9:50, come for the zazen, the talk or both)
• February 22, 2011 (Tue) 7:00 pm (doors open 6:30) St Louis, MO: Seki’s Japanese Restaurant 6335 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, MO
• February 26, 2011 (Sat) 7:00 PM St Louis, MO: Missouri Zen Center, 220 Spring Ave., Webster Groves, MO 63119
If you're anywhere near any of these places and you miss any of these talks/retreats, you will suffer.
I've moved out of Brooklyn. I've heard enough people say "I told you so." If you want to add your restatement of the same sentiment, be my guest. But the truth is, I already knew so when I went into it. I just thought maybe it could work. And maybe it will at some point. I just saw a video in which Akron-native Chrissy Hynde says about Akron, "I can't stay here for long. I can't live my life in a car." I have the same problem. I like to walk and if I can't walk places, I get too sad. So I'm gonna see if I can make this work. Akron will be my base of operations at least until all the Midwest stuff is done.
It's always intriguing to see what gets people going as far as my writing is concerned. Saying anything against reincarnation is sure to cause an uproar (see below). Same with anything I say knocking koan practice or Zen on the Internet. What's the common ground?
I don't know. But I think it has to do with investing a lot of your sense of self into a specific idea. When that idea is challenged, you have a tendency to want to fight back. For example, I've noticed that if I say anything negative about what some call "koan introspection practice" I get comments here that express personal anger. It's as if I have directly insulted the commenters and they want to insult me back. From this I can guess that these commenters have made the practice such a part of their ego structure that anything negative said about it feels like a personal attack.
The comments I made about Zen in Second Life have caused some ruckus, I hear. That's also interesting. I think perhaps some have assumed wrongly when I say bad things about the Internet. They think I'm saying, "Look at me! I'm not on the Internet like you nerds! You should be a cool guy like me! Not an Internet-bound dweeb!"
But this is not the case. I tend to believe that's glaringly obvious. But perhaps it's not. So for the record, I'm on the god damned Internet all the time! I can see what a time suck it is because IT SUCKS MY TIME. I am precisely the type for it. I'm generally anti-social. I'm not a "people person" at all. I know it's easy to hide here in cyberspace BECAUSE I DO IT.
I also know it's the wrong way to live. It's terribly damaging. I can see how it fosters a lot of the kind of behavior that makes me miserable. I can see how hard it is to break those habits. I can see how attractive the Internet can be. It can seem like a friend, a companion. I know you can mistake chats and Skype conversations for real conversations because I do it myself. This is all from personal experience.
When I tell all you nerds to go outside and play, I am telling myself to go outside and play. Talk to real people right in front of you. Don't hide here.
Which I shall now do, in spite of the bone numbing cold. I need to go deliver some books to Square Records so they can sell them on consignment for me.