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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Hanst

A Pirate's Life for Me!

Sometimes, it’s hard to know or remember why we hang onto things.  I’ve had this coin in my nightstand forever, and prior to being in the house I’m in now, it’s followed me around for 40 years.  I might not be aware of the time line specifically, if it weren’t for a tiny ‘79 printed on one side.

The coin itself isn’t technically currency, but it is worth a lot to me, especially recently.  I fished it out of the cigar box it was living in and decided that since it had a hole punched through it, it would work well as a necklace.  And while it would serve as jewelry, its more important role was symbolic.

In 1979, my grandparents were living in Bradenton, FL.  My family would visit them at least once a year when my sister and I were on summer break.  My memories of that time are golden and sun dappled. It always felt like a very chill rhythm of beach days, pool time, shuffleboard (of course!) and lazy afternoon rain storms.

But the highlight of most trips to Florida was a day long excursion to Disney World.  The night before these adventures I was so keyed up, I could barely sleep. The visits to the theme park run together in my mind.  I would guess we visited there 5 or 6 times when I was a kid. But the snapshots lodged in my gray matter are surprisingly vivid. I can still see and ‘feel’ the experience of many of the rides in my head.  “It’s a Small World,” “The Haunted Mansion,” the now (sadly) defunct “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” and of course… “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

It was one fateful summer day in 1979 when, after riding ‘Pirates,’ I came upon a small souvenir machine that sold “doubloons.”  The contraption would print out several characters of your choosing onto one side of the coin (with a Pirates logo in the middle) and on the flip side were faded markings, as though the coin had languished in a treasure chest for decades.  As keepsakes go (and for just a buck!) it was pretty solid.

Maybe that’s why I’ve kept the coin around for so long.  It’s not only tied to my childhood “Disney Days,” and to my grandparents, but on top of it all-- it just looks cool!

When I decided to thread a simple pull chain through the hole in the coin a few months ago, the reason had little to do with my youth or my grandparents.  I did it to keep me inspired.

In 2012, I visited Disney World with my kids and it was the first time I had gone as an adult.  Aside from the joy of experiencing the park through the eyes of my children, the thing that struck me the most was how this  DREAM had come to LIFE. Certainly thousands of people brought (and continue to bring) Walt Disney’s vision into the world, but I was bowled over by the drive and determination for an individual like Disney to take the ideas out of his head and make them real.  What a testament to the power of imagination!

I don’t have designs on building a theme park, but like many creative people, I have lots of dreams.  In my mind and reality, they are regularly expanding and being revised. My dreams involve my studio becoming what I call a Creative Clubhouse.  I’ve done voiceover there since 2011 and in 2014, I started making art. In 2018, I transitioned part of the space to a gallery. And this year I’ve brought my video games and pinball machines upstairs and established a mini arcade.

I’m curating a space not only for myself to create and play, but for others to participate.  They can enjoy my games and album collection. They can bring instruments and make music. Maybe we’ll collaborate on a new type of artwork I haven’t envisioned yet.  I want this house to be a hub for artists and the community at large. A gathering spot for people to “step out” of reality and into something extraordinary.

A week ago, I had my first “Frogger Friday,” which was an open house that allowed people to come in, connect, talk, laugh and play (80s arcade games!) with one another.  We also raised money for a local non profit. As I rode the waves of energy and good vibrations in my ‘clubhouse,’ I felt so alive. The dream was morphing into the real world!

We all need reminders now and then that with effort and intention: dreams will come true.  My reminder is the ‘Pirates’ doubloon around my neck. And if you’re ever in my neighborhood, I invite you to come to the studio and step into my dream. You can also follow my creative adventures in art, voiceover, music and merry making by clicking here to get updates.

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