When I was a kid my Dad got me the coolest toy. It was a Fisher-Price video camera that recorded in black and white on regular cassette tapes. This toy opened up a whole new dimension in staging and filming epic battles between my Ghostbusters action figures, and the hard rubber, carcinogenic-smelling Godzilla whose head popped off given the right amount of force. (That’s how he always died in the last scene of my homemade movies).
There were so many new creative things to consider: the camera angles, the dialogue, how to hold the camera while simultaneously moving the figures around, etc. I remember rewinding the tape countless times to get a take where the movements were absolutely right. Hours would just float by as I was blissfully unaware of everything going on around me. There was no higher aim, no need to prepare my work for others to see – just the pure enjoyment of creating and playing.
Fast-forward to the present. I’m standing in the arts and crafts store a couple of days ago, and I’m feelling anxious about what I’m about to buy. I look down at my hands reluctantly clutching a pack of googly eyes, some red face paint crayons, and some fake hair extensions. The thought crosses my mind to put the stuff back and leave. I’m conflicted, feeling embarrassed for diametrically opposed reasons. My adult self is telling me that I’m going to make a fool of myself. My free thinking self is asking, “When did I become such a chicken? There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t have balked at this at all.”
The free thinker in me argued more passionately (as he typically does), so I paid for my random assortment of items and headed home. Afterall, I had a promotional video to make for an important show coming up and I didn’t have any better ideas.
At home I had to act fast. My girlfriend was about to leave work, and I was afraid she’d walk in on me in our kitchen, puppeteering my lip-sticked creation I’d decided to call Handgelina Jolie. At this point in our relationship she’s come to expect some pretty strange things, but catching me in the middle of this act might have raised some concerns.
Determined to see it through, I proceeded, laughing hysterically at myself in between takes at the ridiculousness of it all. The end result is the video above, but I gained something of much more value by forcing myself to go through this process. I reconnected with the same freedom I felt as a kid making those videos with my Fisher-Price camera.
It’s a shame that adulthood tries to whittle away at what was once such a natural behavior in all of us. I hate that. I hate having to size up every action I take as to whether it’s of value or not – particularly, of monetary value. What an oppressive burden to lug around all the time!
Sometimes we’ve just got to lose ourselves in mindless creative fun. It’s certainly liberating, but I think it’s healthy as well. I felt like a million bucks afterward. It was nice to let go of my adult frame of reference and do whatever floated into my head for a while. This year I’m going to try and enjoy that feeling more.
More weird videos to come… among other things.