Friday, August 11, 2006

When the well runs dry

Rebecca McClusky had been making eyes at me all week, and as much as I tried to ignore the squelchy wobbling in my tummy, I knew that it was now or never. Rebecca McClusky (not her real name) was not like the other girls in Grade 6 – she was gorgeous (you know, for a 12 year old girl, seen through the rather rose-coloured glasses of an 11 year old pre-pubescent boy). The reason it was now or never was that we were on Grade 6 camp; the last hoorah in the final weeks of primary school. Next year I’d be dragged-off to an all-boys Catholic Prison Camp, and Rebecca would be well-and-truly off the menu after that. Besides, if truth be known, I wasn’t the only Donkey Rebecca’d been eyeing off that week, and many of the other recipients were staring down the barrel of distinguished sporting careers, which would no doubt have been altogether more attractive than what I was heading towards; a lifetime membership to the Chess Club!

Around the campfire on the last night, everyone was goofing around, singing songs, performing skits and telling jokes … we all knew we were entering a new period in our lives, and the creative energy in that fire-lit circle was as thick as treacle. Some time during the night, Rebecca had positioned herself next to me, and I could feel her warmth at my side … so you can see, it really was now or never … I had to do something … I had to pluck that creativity out of the air, and channel it into a Rebecca-winning piece of theatre.

When my turn came, I stood up and waited for the crowd to quieten down. “This one is for Rebecca McClusky”, I announced. And then I launched into the only piece of creativity I could muster; my time-honoured impersonation of Fat Albert, “Hey, Hey, Hey…” And I sang it all for Rebecca. When I got to “And I’m gonna sing a song for you-ooo…”, I even pointed my big, Fat Albert finger at her … and she loved it! She was laughing so hard … and everyone else was laughing so hard. I was a comedic genius!

My Fat Albert theme petered-out about half way through. At that time I realised no one was actually laughing, they were, in fact, staring at me in cold, angry silence. And Rebecca’s convulsions of mirth were not exactly that. She was sobbing shamefully … the creative energy had well-and-truly fled the fireside!

Twenty years later, I sit here on the grass beneath Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi; my laptop open and the only thing on my page is a cursor flashing in anticipation of a great creative outpouring of Blogging brilliance. I have been sitting like this now for 18 minutes … and there’s nothing coming.

Humayun’s Tomb is the precursor to the majestic Taj Mahal, and almost identical in appearance other than that this one is blood-red to the Taj’s marble-white! It’s a great feat of creativity; from the marble, onion-like dome, to the symmetrical arches, to the extensive catacombs beneath … and even to the symmetrical, meticulous gardens and water features surrounding the structure. Basically, there’s been so much creativity gone into the design and construction of this incredible monument, and indeed continues to do so every day from the armies of gardeners, stone masons, plumbers and other restoration staff, that there seems to be bugger-all left for Donkey to feed on.

Y’see, I’ve developed this theory over the years. The scientists tell us that there is only a certain amount of energy in any one place, and that some of that energy gets converted to light, movement, heat etc. But I reckon that a limited portion also exists in the form of creative energy.

For instance, in my office, we are all supposed to work on innovative ways of saving the world, but there’s so little creativity being used up by anyone else, that I can’t stop thinking of ideas to Blog, and it’s like I’m on some kind of high-grade creative speed.

When I get home each night, I’m still pretty toey, but Mrs Donkey’s got a fair creative streak, too, so often my creative energy levels drop a bit as the total amount of creativity balances out between us to about 50/50 (actually, we all know that it’s about 60/40, but for the sake of relationship longevity…), and we can usually pour that creative energy into cooking, writing or playing music together.

But right now, I’m sitting beneath Humayun’s Tomb, and there’s nothing left. Contrary to the often-held belief that places like these have, over the centuries, been powerful sources of inspiration for poets, writers and musicians, they are, in actual fact, great big plug-holes through which all the creative energy within spitting distance is sucked and swallowed-up, only to be forced out the other end in the form of brown, smelly, unemotional 5-minute, happy-grabs on TV lifestyle and travel programmes.

Need more evidence? Well think about all those free thinkers and artists over the years. Michaelangelo didn’t get his inspiration for the Sistine Chapel from visiting the numerous, creatively-designed Cathedrals of Rome, but from hanging out in seedy bars! Jimi Hendrix didn’t write Purple Haze while walking around The Louvre (although it’s possible that he might have, but he was that far off his nut on acid that he didn’t actually know it at the time!). So you see, great feats of creativity are borne, not from fine pieces of art or performances or symphonies, but from environments that are more or less plain and boring, because the creativity hasn’t yet been swallowed up; it’s still hanging in the air, ready for the plucking!

By the way, how was I supposed to know that Rebecca McClusky had an eating disorder? It was the mid-80s; a time when the media was flooded with images of the Big M girls, telling us that skeletal = gorgeous. It’s no wonder we boys all thought she was different from the other girls! If only the creative energy around that campfire hadn’t been all used up by all the other kids that night, maybe I might have come up with another performance, and maybe life would have turned out differently … but I was too late. I didn’t understand back then about the Laws of Creativity … but now, sitting here beneath Humayun’s Tomb with a blank screen in front of me, I am understanding all too well.

A very special relic from the 'Big M Girls' calendar, 1985. I apologise for the quality (a long time pre-digital) and I apologise to any non-Victorians (you guys must have no idea what I'm talking about).


Parton Words said...

Hey Donkey,

I was reading your blog on this cold Canberra afternoon. I'm in the back room. There's no heating back here. I found myself draw physically to the screen when your blog was up. Was it my imagination or was there a genuine heat coming from the screen ?

Donkey this is truly a miracle. Methinks it is the creative energy from your blog transforming my computer monitor into a heater. Well more like a blazing furnace of creative thoughts.

I think you may have tapped into the unknown energy force.

I've got Rebecca McCluskey's e-mail address. With your blessing Donkey, I'd love to e-mail her a link. She's now working full time as the "before shot" model in the Jenny Craig ads.

DonkeyBlog said...

He Heh, sorry Rebecca McCluskey ... we know not what we do! But at least she's not unemployed.

Mr Words, I'm feeling a bit of an ass (orrrr... that was terrible) right now 'cause I've been doing this for a month now and only just realised that there is something called "comments moderator", so while I was thinking no one was listening, all these comments from nice people (and the odd hoax) were piling up waiting for me. My Blogging Life has been restored!

Thanks for reading, and more helpfully, writing!

As for Canberra winter - I know it can be pretty horrible, but as the 45+ degree summer drags on here in Dehli, I reckon I'd swap you anytime!

Again, thanks a bunch!