Battling Zombies and Pageant Queens

Cool Interview (with Feng Shui Expert) isHERE

For years, I struggled unsuccessfully to avoid Halloween.

You see, a decade or more ago, I taught both Friday and Saturday evenings at a yoga center in the West Village and then Chelsea.

While it might be fun to attend a Halloween party, getting to your job while navigating a Halloween parade is an absolute nightmare.

You’re basically fighting hordes of drunk vampires and zombies to get to work.

Now that Vlad has gotten me into the cool dog park community, everything has changed.

We have several invitations for tonight, and yet I’ve given no consideration to either of our costumes.

I have a few hours to figure it all out.

I’m moderately open to last-minute, DIY suggestions…or we might just opt to stay in for more Cuddle Time.

I do have a few interesting stories from my past involving costumes.

My favorite happened right after college.

I was a fresh-faced 23-year-old living in NYC when one of my friends called me with a frantic request.

She was a production assistant on an indie film.

Somehow there had been some kind of casting crisis and they were desperately in need of more background extras for the next day’s shoot.

Frankly, it was a very easy “yes.

I was free (i.e., unemployed).

I was always happy to help my friend.

And, not only were they paying me, they were also feeding me lunch.

I showed up on set in a very rough and tumble area of Brooklyn which, come to think of it, post several waves of gentrification, is probably pretty much where I live now.

They approved my wardrobe––I was told to show up wearing clothing that looked old/dirty/torn––and sent me directly to makeup.

My role: an addict in a crack den.

Given my very straight-laced lifestyle, amused, I let the makeup team do their best.

I’ll never forget how, after gumming up my shiny white teeth and adding some grime to my face and clothes, the director (a famous Warhol protege), glanced at me and sighed:

“He still looks too (expletive-deleted) healthy…”

Back to the makeup trailer.

Here’s the most interesting part of the adventure: 

I whimsically decided to stay in movie makeup for the subway ride home.

That morning, when I’d bought a token, I was a squeaky-clean, albeit grungily dressed, Ivy leaguer.

Now, with that extra layer of professional movie makeup, I truly looked like a young homeless drug addict.

I hadn’t expected it, but suddenly I’d walked into an entirely new reality.

Not surprisingly, the way people treat you shifts rather dramatically based on whether you look like you’re coming from your first job interview at the Yale Club or emerging from a crack den.

I was used to positive (or at least neutral) reactions when I smiled at people.

Now, with my hard-core junkie teeth, strangers recoiled.

Also, since my clothes looked soiled, no one wanted to sit next to me on the subway––which I suppose was a mixed blessing.

A shower, a reunion with my toothbrush, and a change of wardrobe, and my old life quickly returned.

My naïveté about how I experienced the world did not.

It showed me how easy it is to take things for granted, to assume that one’s experience of reality is universal when it so clearly varies enormously depending on your circumstances (or your movie makeup).

Just as fish can’t see the water in which they swim, our perceptions are full of blind spots and assumptions.

Sometimes a perspective shift can refocus everything.

I had another one this week-–no costumes or makeup involved––when we did an interview for our membership with Reiko Gomez, a Feng Shui expert.

Even though we usually keep this content exclusive to the membership, since we’re going to open the doors again soon-ish, I wanted to share it HERE.

In it, she offered a very short spontaneous meditation she uses with her clients as a first step toward helping them organize their spaces.

I gained much from it, including the inspiration for this month’s new meditation (coming next week).

I loved Reiko’s quick visualization that connected us with our Future Self and have been applying its insights in interesting ways.

And––although I’ve never done this, several friends have––you could take all of this one giant step further.

Rather than celebrating Halloween traditionally, you could throw a party for your closest friends where everyone comes as their future selves, sharing their (soon to happen) accomplishments and successes.

You’d need to have a few friends in your back pocket who are playful crackpots (or at least very…creative), but something tells me you probably already do.

Around the time I was starring for a day as a background extra crack addict in that indie film, I also had a part-time job running an arts program in the afternoons for a very fancy NYC school.

I was in charge of after school creative activities for fourth & fifth graders.

One year we made a video––much harder technically than before the universality of cellphone cameras––to the Monster Mash.

The kids all wore typical scary costumes (vampires, zombies, and werewolves) except for one pretty blonde girl, Monica.

She looked lovely, though, wearing an evening gown and fake jewels.

I was confused.

She didn’t really seem to have gotten the whole “Monster Mash” assignment at all.

I gingerly asked her what she was supposed to be.

Monica put on a sash, smiled, and replied:

“I’m a dead Miss America.”

In the many years since that moment, I’ve lost track of Monica, but I have no doubt with self-marketing instincts like that, she’s no doubt a multi-zillionaire. 

As of this writing, I still haven’t figured out what Vlad’s (and maybe my) costume will be tonight.

I have, however, gained a lot of insight from that Future Self Meditation I’ll be sharing next week.

Note: There’s a thread between that meditation and our Feng Shui interview HERE.

Our outfits and surroundings not only influence but actually shape our reality.

That seems fitting for Halloween but is also universally true.

We are more than just our clothes and makeup…but they can sometimes completely define the experiences we have.

The same is true for our environments.

As Reiko shares, sometimes there’s real magic in subtle adjustments to spaces that can transform our lives.

And as I learned on the subway years ago, sometimes brushing the grime away from your teeth radically transforms how the world sees you.

Our inner and outer experiences are deeply intertwined.

And, as Halloween reminds us, sometimes there’s tremendous power in playfulness.

Like young Monica, I hope you modify the assignment––change your appearance or environment––and embrace any persona that delights you.

Namaste for Now,

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