The view from down here

Beginner's Mind

February 7, 2009

In 1985 we made videos, short Twilight Zone-inspired stories in a series we called Curios. We were YouTube before there was a word for that. My brother recently dubbed them to DVD, and I spent this weekend watching them and remembering what I was doing half a life ago.

Will Underwood was our spark, our driving motivation. He had an amazing vision, and it was a great thing to be a part of it.

We had a Betamax camera that we used for all the raw footage. To edit a scene, we would play the previous scene on the VCR, press pause, then play the tape off of the camera and press the record button on the VCR early enough so that the delay between hitting the button and the beginning of the recording was about where we wanted it.

We played the audio through a mixer and embellished with a small Casio keyboard for sound effects or background music.

The acting, plots, and writing are all overflowing with charming naivete of kids who simply loved what they were doing. It's far from great art, but there it is: a movie, a story, put together with the video equivalent of stone knives and bear skins.

What I want to know is, where did we find the time? Or were we just better at making use of a Saturday?

I miss the immersive exuberance of youth, where you're in the zone, getting it done, for uncounted hours, making something.

When you get older time does speed up. Every minute of your life is a decreasing percentage of your time here. Minutes and hours just aren't what they used to be. Somehow through age, because they're smaller, they seem less precious, and it's too easy to squander an hour before getting back to the page, when it should be exactly the opposite.

All of us who worked on these little stories continued in very creative pursuits in our adult lives, writing software, playing music, drawing, writing stories.

My creative energy these days belongs mostly to the company I work for. Our team has created a Unix/Linux software framework that includes a search engine, web server, our own programming language, file storage system with WebDAV support , server-side scripting language, RSS feeds, and a simple-to-use client server architecture.

But I miss hanging out with friends, remembering lines, making up stories. and editing together blooper reels.

That creative spark is still there. Writing a large software platform isn't quite the same as making old metal drills into space weapons, trying out a bad Boston accent, and working on getting a scene right in the middle of a snowy park, but I suppose it's my modern equivalent.

I guess that's why I keep writing, but watching these videos reminded me to connect again to the part of me that was able to spend countless hours swimming in the soup of my imagination. Here at the end of my Novel, I'm feeling the pressure of making everything fit and all come together, but don't ever let me forget how fun it really is.

Copyright 2009 Daniel LaFavers