Showing posts with label nostalgia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nostalgia. Show all posts

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Hot Pastrami Sandwich With a Side of Nostalgia

Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

Standing in the lunch line I notice hot pastrami on rye is on special. I haven't had one in a very long time and immediately I'm flush with memories of my dad taking me to New York City for his work and treating me to a classic deli style sandwich. I order one and as I think about eating it my mind wanders into its own past. 

I think of my childhood: that huge park with the weeping willows lining the long driveway up to the playground, baseball games at Yankee Stadium, my best friend Brian, and a strange feeling of nostalgia for an age where the future seemed so positive and the feeling that greatness was a certainty. 

The cook calls out my number and I grab the hot Styrofoam container. I pick up some mustard and open the lid. Bonus, curly fries! I get some ketchup packets and as I head for the counter I hear Brian's voice echo in my head, "it's cool when you get those bonus fries down at the bottom of the bag. It's like they're a surprise when all the others are gone". Right on B. 

Sipping on my cherry coke I pull out the money and pay for lunch. I look right at the napkins but fail to grab any. It reminds me of junior year in college. I grabbed napkins after every meal and had a dresser full of them at year's end. Funny enough a few months after that I got the Black Death version of the flu and used every single napkin blowing my nose. It's hotter than hell outside but I'm stuck in a cube all day so I find some shade and dig into my sandwich. 

For a moment I remember all the lunches I had eaten alone while working at a job I had in Texas. It was always hot there. Those memories fill me with a profound sense of loneliness. It was a sad time in my life... Then I remember here in SoCal the ocean is just a few miles away. I'm happy again. 

The pastrami is good but not great. No golden spicy mustard just fancy yellow. Its not the same but I deal with it. I miss my dad. We haven't seen a Yankee game together in decades. Lunch time is always just a few minutes too short. I'm wishing I could just leave and go to the beach. I know that's why we have weekends but there's just something so alluring about playing hooky. I chomp on the last few fries and suck up all the cherry coke left in my cup. 

I wish Brian could have joined me for lunch. Good friends are hard to find and always worth keeping. I've got to go back to work even though I wish I would working on my novel. I need a vacation. 



Thanks for reading. 

Questions and comments are welcome.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Can You Feel the Inspiration?

How often have you heard a song playing on the radio, watched a favorite movie, or been part of a conversation where the subject matter was so familiar, so woven into your memory that it transported you to a positive, pleasant, and comforting place in your mind? Do you find solace there? Do you feel waves of nostalgia and happiness wash over you? I do.

I'll give you a couple of examples to illustrate my point. While in college, my roommates and I (who are still good friends) would watch Braveheart and Independence Day repeatedly. I'd say almost everyday, one or the other movie was always on whenever any of us walked into our dorm room. It got to the point where we could all recite the dialogue ad nauseam. 

Obviously one of the most famous scenes in the movie Braveheart:

ID4- one of my favorite lines in the movie. 


Another example is the song Take On Me, by A-ha. Okay I'm aging myself here but this one is a classic. As MTV began to emerge as a musical powerhouse (long before they abandoned videos for trashy reality TV), I'd watch with amazement and thoroughly enjoyed A-ha's video blend of live action and animation (I also had a school boy crush on the girl in the video). 
A-ha's video, Take On Me:

My last example is Rob Dougan's Clubbed to Death, the Kurayamino Variation


While I was writing my novel, everyday before I put pen to paper, I would listen to the entire seven minutes of this musical masterpiece. It got to the point where anytime I heard even a snippet of this tune, I was ready to write (almost Pavlovian you might say). 

All of these examples or triggers you might call them, elicit an emotional response of positivity that allows me to tap into my creative side. Now I deliberately focus on the positive here because I believe you gain more by positive motivation rather than negative. I'll admit negativity is powerful and it can elicit tremendous feelings that can be utilized for creative purposes. I would warn you, though, that negativity has a tendency to distract and divert more than it does to motivate. 

Now you might have a knee jerk reaction of "I don't have anything like those triggers to draw upon". Perhaps, but if you gave it enough thought I believe you could find a wealth of positive triggers to use. Remember, it doesn't have to be a song or a movie, it could be a poem, a painting, a play, perhaps a joke or limerick  or even a dance or gesture. In fact there is quite a bit of research to show the sense of smell is the strongest sense in recalling past emotions.

So why do I bring all this up? Well one of the first lessons I learned studying to be a writer is 'write what you know.' I believe everyone's life contains volumes of stories - adventures just waiting to find expression. Friends and classmates would ask me 'where do you get your story ideas?' To me the answer is simple: my life, my experiences and my emotions, it's what I know. And it's a great place to start. Your life experiences are a great resource to find motivation and inspiration for future endeavors, because you experienced them. Who better to tell us about them than you? You see, it doesn't have to be through a written story, it can be through a painting, a sculpture, interactions, a hobby. Building new experiences upon positive older ones can and many times does create a positive loop you can use to improve your perspective, disposition, and outlook. 

As a writer I hope when someone reads my work they'll have the same positive reaction I do to my triggers. You might work in a different medium, but if you can reach your audience in a similar manner, well, to me that's an incredibly moving inspiration story. 


Thanks for reading. 
Questions and comments are welcome.

DouglasHClark.com


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