Kangaroos and the Creative Process

Part One: The Kangaroos

I never thought much about kangaroos. Even as a kid, they have never been that appealing to me. A kangaroo looks like the T-rex of the marsupial world with their big hind legs and tail, odd little front arms and tiny head. It doesn’t help that they live in the same neighborhood as the koala.

On a regular basis, my girls summon me over to the computer to look at a video of some fluffy young animal doing something cute or sleeping. They go through phases – pandas were big for awhile but I’ve noticed they’re back to English bulldogs.

It sounds innocuous but that is how I stumbled onto kangaroo sparring. I’m not sure how we made the leap from pandas and puppies to boxing kangaroos but it happened. The girls were horrified and stopped watching. I was fascinated and looked for another video.

It’s the shockingly powerful aggression hybrided with comedic choreography that compels me. When kangaroos fight it looks like a Three Stooges schtick  – Moe bops Curly, Larry kicks Moe, then Curly pokes Larry and Moe in the eyes. There is something so confusing about the kangaroo’s sudden shift from boring marsupial to pocketed stooge.

Most videos begin with a sweeping survey of a mob, the proper name for a group of kangaroos. They are mellow, jumping about or gathering in the grass in groups of three or four.  Suddenly two of the mob erupt into a gangly flailing of little arms with their heads thrown back. In all this limb chaos they stand straight up on their tails and kick.

Oh it’s those kicks.

My favorite video is David Attenborough’s, Kangaroo Boxing, a snippit from the BBC program, Life of Animals. His lovely British accent along with the jaunty orchestra piece playing in the background makes watching kangaroos wrangle seem elegant and sophisticated.

Like most animal fights, it’s an exercise in establishing dominance and rarely results in injury or death, or so says David.

According to my research, the sub-dominant kangaroo can avoid an altercation by acknowledging the dominant kangaroo’s status with a short, deep cough. This works for a human trying to avoid a kangaroo attack too.

A short deep cough.  Brilliant. It’s a variation on taking a deep breath, but just strange enough to throw off the bully in the mob.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiTG6T9pTcM  David Attenborough’s, Kangaroo Boxing, BBC program Life of Animals

Part Two: The Creative Process

Yesterday I crafted an formulaic ending to the Kangaroo Blog that I did not include in the post.  The ending made Leo give me a disappointed, eyebrow-lifting, head-tilting stare. The look said “not more animals and parenting.” He is usually my biggest fan, so when he has an opinion, I listen. Besides, I was feeling the same thing. It was the first blog post I’d written where I felt like my own ghost writer. Exhaustion had turned me on to auto-pilot.

I worked on it, let it rest and returned to it again after the kids went to bed. At 11:30pm last night I vacillated – to post or not to post.

In between Leo and my no-post decision, I took Georgia to the Austin screening of Scott Harris’ documentary, Being Ginger.  Lila was at evening practice so it was just my ginger and me. It’s an achingly human story of vulnerability as we watch Harris on his mission to find women who are attracted to ginger men.

Scott Harris led a Q&A after the film. When asked why he chose this topic he spoke about authenticity and the creative process. He is guided by advice given from a former professor, even though at the time he thought it was trite.  The advice is simple – be true to your voice and create in the present moment. If you can maintain that stride then you will take yourself on unexpected plot twists, in life and in art.

For Harris, what began as a comic look at dating became interwoven with his own healing from childhood bullying.

So there I was at 11:30 pm re-reading the kangaroos post and I just wasn’t invested. What I had written didn’t, and wasn’t ever, going to have any particular meaning. It was just an image. The forced parenting tie-in that I was trying to incorporate didn’t sound like me. I was trying too hard to bring these sparring kangaroos to some illuminating crescendo that wasn’t going to happen.

The twist for me thus far in my 50 blog project is learning to recognize my voice – when it’s real and when it is not. Sigmund Freud is attributed to famously saying that “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”  In this case, my truth is that a kangaroo is just a kangaroo.

http://watch.beingginger.co.uk  Being Ginger trailer

“No work or love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.”   – Allan Watts

One thought on “Kangaroos and the Creative Process

  1. Liddy, the juxtaposition of Kangaroos and Gingers was somehow both hilarious and moving!! (I admit, I watched hedghogs mating after the Kanga uprising). Being a ginger myself, I have been aware of this inside feeling of something not right about me – now that I’m gray, I feel better!! Seriously though, the little short films gave me such a start – here was a young man, who couldn’t cover his lashes with mascara or hide his freckles beneath make-up, who stood up and showed he was lovable, worthy, funny. Thanks for your writing, always makes me think, laugh, or cry!!!

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