I used to experience being someone else all the time. I’m not talking about some medieval alchemic biology dark arts stuff. I’m talking mix tapes. Also, hundreds of thousands of lines of bad love poetry. But mostly mix tapes. Same thing.
I bought a new (old) car Friday in a sort of swirl of haste which is how I tend to do most things and as night deepened and the possibility of my being late to my son’s baseball became more real I frantically threw everything from my dearly departed dent mobile into the new thing while the guy was prepping the paperwork. In order to do this I started her up one last time to swing near the car I was dedicating the next 6 years to and in doing so I noticed the appraiser guy must have activated the CD player which still had my buddy’s xmas mixtape disc from 3 years ago in it.
He’s a relic, like me. Every year I get a Peanuts xmas card with his cd for the year in it. Every year I try to listen at least once. I do podcasts a lot now. But me and this guy have been friends since first grade and we always bonded in our High Fidelity love of the mixtape. I ejected and grabbed and threw into the bag of all the clutter that would soon populate crevices of my new ride.
This morning when I went to get my mints out of the new mint storage space in the new (old) car I saw the cd again and had to chuckle. See, I was listening to a Spotify mixtape (playlist, whatever) I had just made of the most seminal band from my youth. Seeing my buddy’s disc must have helped psychologically nudge me toward making this one. No screamy tracks and not too much angst, despite my always loving that about them. No. Because mixtapes have specific audiences, and I was trying to sway mine.
Which brings me to the out of body-ness I alluded to. While making a mixtape with as much skill and fervor as I always have there is a level of investment befitting someone like an eye surgeon or something. But afterward? You become that audience of one. Same with sappy love poetry. That scrutinizing lens under which the craftsmanship was plied is now switched out and you shapeshift into the person for whom the product was intended. Obviously it is my perception of what that person’s heart is drawn to. Which soul magnets apply. How their brains tickle and dance. But I listen (or read) as them. It’s not an empathy exercise, per se, as it is definitely rooted in ego. My impression of their perspective.
But it’s something akin to exhilaration, for a moment, to inhabit those you wish to impress. Those deemed worthy of your artistic endeavors. Those who drive you toward creation. There’s magic, for sure, in a spark like that. For those are the sparks that can still illuminate an ever-adultified world in a way that recalls the innocence and freedom of a Memorex’d era.