I dug into the stacks of old 45s, 78s and LPs we listened to as kids.
Took my ION portable USB turntable and converted childhood memories into digital audio files (wav and m4a), complete with all the nostalgic crackle, pop and hiss. We played those records by the hour, way back when.
The turntable is durable and lightweight, fit easily into my carry-on bag, raised no eyebrows passing through airport security, and was easy to set-up when I arrived.
When I got back, I found an amazing website that has dozens of Kiddie Records and their associated artwork (jackets, books, etc.) from the mid 1940's through early 1950's available for free download.
[I should make it clear that I wasn't around to hear these records when they were new. They belonged first to my older brothers, my parents and grandparents--already scratched and well loved by the time I came along.]
What does all this have to do with the creative process or living a more contented life?
It's all about reclaiming the vividness of happy childhood memories.
Creative art making is dependent upon the ability to tap into childlike playfulness and curiosity at will. What better way to access this mindset than to revisit joyful times from ones distant personal past?
For me, the pull of these old recordings was irresistible. As I played them I found myself wearing an unsuppressible smile. I finally had to get up and gave in to the urge to dance around.
For me, living a contented life is all about enjoying what is. Happy memories from my childhood are things that will always be mine to enjoy. They cost nothing and offer a guaranteed high.
They also have the added benefit of helping to free my creative work in the present.
When I revisit the things I enjoyed as a 5-year-old it becomes impossible for me to take myself or anything else too seriously. This sort of time travel enables me to approach my art with the spontaneity and fearlessness I felt back then. I can transport those feelings into the here-an-now on the scratchy strains from an old 45.
Now if you'll, please, excuse me. I'm going to go listen again to my favorite well-worn recording of "I'm a Little Teapot," then the "Hukilau" song, followed Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians playing "Stumbling" (link to an original piano roll MIDI file).
(c)2009 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing