Student talk Nils Nichols - Jukai Nils Nichols July 25th 2013

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When Ann gave her talk and read it, I decided I was going to write my talk and then a lot of things happened. I never wrote a talk, so . . . but I’ve been thinking a lot for the last three months, and hopefully I can spit out a few things that will make sense to someone. Just before I decided to accept the precepts and follow that path, I had decided for my own personal self, I somehow knew I was going to get out of New York soon, I didn’t know when, I decided I would commit to a year of sitting every Saturday and coming to the studies class and doing sesshin. Which I did. And then the jukai thing started and I started doing that, and. . . let me jump around here. I have notes so it will all tie together.

Claire said at the second to last Garrison sesshin that she was getting to this point where she realized she was doing everything for the last time. And what I didn’t realize a year ago I was doing everything in New York for the last time, and I might have not done jukai had I known that, had I really . . . I knew I was going to leave sometime after March but I had no idea when. It had more to do with money and work than anything else, but I didn’t realize how much jukai was going to take up, necessarily, and I didn’t realize that there were all these friends, besides you guys, in the city that I wasn’t going to see, and that I should be seeing and saying goodbye to. Oddly enough I had run into half a dozen people in the last couple of months, and I said something. So I don’t know if I would have decided to do jukai, and maybe it’s better that I didn’t realize.

I didn’t realize how much work it was going to be to move. I had no idea. I’ve been living here for 37 years, I’d been living in my apartment for 11. I’m not a messy hoarder, but I am a hoarder, and I have been collecting things forever. And some of them mean something and some of them don’t anymore, and I haven’t looked at any of them for a long time.

I could have started six months ago to start going through stuff for moving, but if I had I would have looked at everything. I would have spent two hours looking through files, and now I’m at this point where I have to scan and go -- gone! -- I’m just tossing and packing and throwing. I’ve gotten rid of a third of my stuff, I’ve had two stoop sales, and my apartment is still just full of crap. In the end, it’s the little things, just loose stuff everywhere, some of it I’m not going to see for three weeks. Some of it will go into storage and I might not see it for six months. I don’t know if I’m going to see anything anymore, I don’t know if any of it means anything anymore. I can’t take it!

Anyway, I finally called my son -- I had to reschedule my moving experience because I realized I wasn’t going to be ready in time, and at some point on Sunday I sat down with my son who's working in the film business now -- and there’s no life for people in the television and film business - you work when they tell you to work and you go home when they tell you to go home, and he’s only 23 years old and he can’t even spend time with his father who’s moving. Anyway I texted him and I said, You have to come here tonight and for the rest of the week and help me pack so I don’t lose my mind and he’s been coming. Somehow I have to be ready by Sunday and I guess I will.

In moving I had to face every emotional, physical -- it’s like you sit here on the cushion, and the thoughts come and you get really good at staying with them or not staying with them. Not caring or whatever. It’s like -- I had too much fun at sesshin. I expected them to be more difficult for me.

So now I’m like looking at stuff and picking it up and it means something to me, it meant something to me, it was a dream, it was a thing I was going to do with grandchildren, it was something I wanted to show my son. There’s all this stuff! And I have to get rid of all of it or most of it, and it’s been more of a push since the -- impermanence of everything -- and what’s the point of holding onto it anyway? In 20 years I’m going to die and my son is going to go, Fuck! Why did my dad hold onto this stuff? What was he thinking?

So this moving experience has been a continual sesshin of facing and resisting. Continually resisting. I don’t want to get rid of this! It’s not fair! I haven’t had a chance to do anything! I had just about given up on the reason I’m leaving. I was just about giving up on love. In fact, I’d given up on love. I was trying to figure out how I was going to spend the rest of my life living alone and make something out of it. When my son went away to college that’s when I should have started getting a life, but I’ve just been eroding, vegetating, and coming here and sitting here with my problems and my thoughts, just vegetating, doing nothing for years. I’ve wasted the last four years -- which is why I think one of the precepts should be compassion for oneself. And I’ve been trying and trying to do that. My son says, Don’t get mad at yourself for all this shit you’ve been collecting. Just go -- you’re getting rid of it now, and you’re going somewhere else and you're doing something new. I’m sort of there as everything’s disappeared into boxes.

I left here so abruptly and I couldn't face anyone after I left here. I was just embarrassed. I didn’t talk to anyone about my decision because I thought I might be talked out of it. I couldn’t see any way to get out of here and keep doing jukai. I just couldn’t see it. I take on too much stuff. I have unrealistic dreams. As an example of an unrealistic dream: I had this idea that I would make my own rakusu, and I ordered it, and she cuts out all the strips, and I got it, and I opened it up, and I was like -- you have to be kidding me! There’s no way on God’s earth . . . I was heartbroken. What can I do? I know this woman who sells sewing stuff. I’m gonna go to her and say Tell me what it is to -- these concepts of sewing -- the patching, like -- teach me what these are and I’ll do this. And I looked at how many strips there were and I thought, I glanced at the rakusus here, even with the sewing machine, the stitches are so fine -- I’ll go insane. I can’t do this. I have to stop. It’s sitting in my drawer still. I’m hoping she'll give me some money back on it and put it toward a rakusu that she’ll make. What was I thinking? I’ll make my own rakusu? Am I nuts?

The more I’ve sat, the more crazy I’d begun to realize I am. I worked at Saturday Night Live when I first came here. That was my thing. I came to work at Saturday Night Live and it was genius. I was 21 years old, hanging out with these stars, and it wasn’t about the stars, but where everything was in New York City in 1976, and then it ended, and there’s no topping that job at 21 years old. Everything after that is downhill, except for my son, my glory, my life, you know? And then I made other decisions, and then it became, like, you made the wrong decision and what’s the right decision? And for the last 30 years I’ve just been going crazy over every decision and going places and wanting to have stuff and hold on to it and keep it, and then suddenly I meet this person and I haven’t done anything. I’m just myself and someone loves me! I don’t fucking get it! I haven’t done anything to deserve this. This is the part where I said I would tell the truth, OK? And I don’t trust this for a moment. I’m just sure I’m going to get to California, and go wow! Guess what? You’ve got cancer and you’ve got six months to live, see you later. And before this I was praying to get sick, I was like, just get me sick, and I just want to tell everyone I’m out of here, and I’m gone from this ridiculous place where everyone is so mean and cruel and swears and everything and now I don’t want to get cancer. My son spent all this time with me the other night, he stayed extra late, and I said, Does that mean I’m dying, this is the last time I’m going to see you and you’re spending time with me and that’s what this means?

I think it’s going to take me a while to settle into believing that this person loves me. A couple of months ago during a very difficult time, Gail was like, what do I have to tell you? And I wasn’t telling her that I didn’t believe she loved me, but she was getting that feeling. And she had this feeling that people get, when I don’t know what to say to you. What do I say? Everything I say to you is wrong. Just be here three months from now and still in love with me and I’ll know you’ll still love me. We’re going through a difficult time here . . . and she was, and thank God she has her moments, because you could all freak out right now, and I’d be like, fine, I would just watch you, and I would be understanding, and I would give you good advice, and I would be very compassionate. I can’t do that with myself. I just can’t do it. That’s what I’m hoping to do. Also when I left it was a crisis for me, like me realizing once again that Zen is useless, it hasn’t helped me figure out how to make this decision, how to properly say goodbye to everyone, how to move. And I also felt like I wasn’t open enough to the sangha. I’m a shy person. Not you guys. I just have an issue being open. I mean, I can talk like this, but . . . whatever.

But I do, like, Gail’s mother gave me this candle 36 years ago, it’s a pewter candle, and I’ve kept it all this time. And I had to tell her when I ran into her again, you haven’t thought about me all this time, and I said No, I have this candle, and every time I look at it I think of you, and that’s why I keep everything else I keep. I have this thing that I’ve got, it’s a little thing you wind up. . . I went to this convention on streaming video. It was the first one before anyone knew anything. I kept it because I remember the guy, I remember the day. But you can’t keep all this stuff. You should throw it all in the fire and burn it. Burn the thoughts. I don’t want to sound negative. I can’t sound negative. I’m not really that negative a guy. I just get upset when everyone doesn’t love it as much as me. I don’t know.

I’m glad I recorded this. I probably won’t edit it. I don’t care if anyone hears or not or what they think. It doesn’t matter. I’m in the emptiness mode. I see the meaningless of life, and that helps me get through stuff, but I don’t see the meaningfulness so much. All right. I’d better say . . . thank you for coming. I was hoping there would be a larger turnout. That was a joke. That was going to be the first joke, but I forgot, so I’ll slip it in here. I appreciate everyone. I appreciate everyone’s compassion. Claire and Barry were very kind to me when I just stopped coming here. I appreciate everyone’s love. I can’t tell you. These are the people I did see for the past year. I love you all. Thank you.

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