Days before Halloween, the rocker Lou Reed who urged us to take a walk on the wild side. The two were already mingled in my mind because years ago, I plucked my daughter from trick-or-treating in Brooklyn (and Hallloween is a very big deal in Carol Gardens and Cobble Hill) to perform in a “Transformation Ball,” created by Reed’s partner Laurie Anderson. Alex was a last minute addition. Somehow the show, a parade of contemporary Buddhist figures portraying Buddhas and scary deities and great and fearsome ones, lacked a Buddha of the Future. I was called and poor Alex, who was happily wearing a shiny white store-bought Princess Leia costume was whisked away from the playfully cobwebby , vampire-ridden brownstones of Brooklyn to tromp down a runway in a dark and cavernous space in downtown Manhattan. As Lou Reed looked on, managing to look cool and adoring at the same time, Laurie Anderson wrapped up her cool show with Alex. Speaking in a spookily amplified, ethereal voice, she dispensed with “Maitreya,” the traditional name, to announce “Princess Leia, the Buddha of the Future.”
Alex swished down the runway as fast as she could, a mix of embarrassment, wonder, and fury on her face. Watching her, I knew it felt like an abduction, that being to this strange dark place and put on display ruined her innocent Halloween. Some day she would look back and think this was cool, being Buddha of the Future in a show created by Laurie Anderson, being at a party with Lou Reed. But it’s the funniest thing. All these years later, this quiet little inner revolution has taken place. Living from the inside, from the depths of our own living experience feels much cooler to me now than being at a supposedly cool party.
Running down the street dressed as as a warrior princess was Alex’s own way of walking on the wild side. Halloween was a night to play with fear, to let go of the known and open to the unknown, to let something other arise in us. This takes an attitude of allowing and letting be, an loving friendliness towards ourselves in all our manifestations, that is very different than being in someone else’s show.
One of the coolest things about Lou Reed was the way he allowed himself to transform over the years, the way he kept letting go of what he used to be. A friend at a similar party years later told me she watched Lou Reed enter, check out the scene, and slip right back out the door. This is the way the mind works: I think of him trick-or-treating on a wild Halloween night. May he go beyond.