Thursday, May 28, 2009
Spring Fever, Mark Twain, and Creativity
Years ago I read a line two, I thought it was a line or two, by Mark Twain. It was the perfect description of spring fever. I knew it was Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn but wasn't sure of the book.
I only remembered something about lying on a hill a beautiful sunny day while looking over the Mississippi River and wanting something but not knowing what it was you wanted. Well thank you Google, I found it without having to go through my Mark Twain books. It was wonderfully easy.
“...The frost was working out of the ground, and out of the air, too, and it was getting closer and closer onto barefoot time every day; and next it would be marble time, and next mumbletypeg, and next tops and hoops, and next kites, and then right away it would be summer and going in a-swimming. It just makes a boy homesick to look ahead like that and see how far off summer is. Yes, and it sets him to sighing and saddening around, and there's something the matter with him, he don't know what. But anyway, he gets out by himself and mopes and thinks; and mostly he hunts for a lonesome place high up on the hill in the edge of the woods, and sets there and looks away off on the big Mississippi down there a-reaching miles and miles around the points where the timber looks smoky and dim it's so far off and still, and everything's so solemn it seems like everybody you've loved is dead and gone, and you 'most wish you was dead and gone too, and done with it all.
Don't you know what that is? It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want--oh, you don't quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! It seems to you that mainly what you want is to get away; get away from the same old tedious things you're so used to seeing and so tired of, and set something new. That is the idea; you want to go and be a wanderer; you want to go wandering far away to strange countries where everything is mysterious and wonderful and romantic. And if you can't do that, you'll put up with considerable less; you'll go anywhere you CAN go, just so as to get away, and be thankful of the chance, too. “(http://mark-twain.classic-literature.co.uk/tom-sawyer-detective/ )
In particular I love the line, “Yes, and it sets him to sighing and saddening around, and there's something the matter with him, he don't know what. ...”and this line, “And when you've got it, you want--oh, you don't quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!
What a writer. I am always drawn in and always in awe of the style of Mark Twain. Even some of his darker writings are wonderful. How does one get such talent. I, being from the S.W. Corner of Missouri, was raised admiring Mr. Clemons as well as the art of Thomas Hart Benton. It can't all have been indoctrination because we studied other “great writers” and “great artists” from our state. Yet I don't always remember their names and when I do I am not overcome with the desire to write, draw, or paint as I am when the two aforementioned artists come to mind.
I note that many in my own family and others from “that neck of the woods” love to write sarcasm and wit. Many of us paint, draw, knit, crochet, and we invariably change any pattern followed or instruction learned as we quickly get bored with this type of guided work. Yes we are “hard-headed” but that is not all there is to it. We also use what I call “make do”. If you don't have what the recipe calls for make do with what you have. If you truly learn the science behind the ingredients, you should be able to come up with something.
I often puzzle over this phenomenon, this yen to be creative. Is it genetic or is it that generations were so proud of these great men. My parents both encouraged creativity in the arts, more my mother, but my dad too. They more than encouraged education and thinking. They didn't get to finish even the eighth grade so there was no argument in our home about education. But why the arts? I really don't know. I just know the arts were important too. Not just “readin', writin' and 'rithmetic”. Did people understand that education is and should be about encouraging a “whole mind” thought process and that one thing aids the other, similar to the way “whole language” is used for some kids while others are taught by “sounding it out” phonics. In reality don't most of us use “all of the above”?
Perhaps where I come from creativity had to do with necessity being the mother of invention. You can get pretty creative when you need to do so. And that type of creativity may well lead to an attitude, an admiration, of creativity in most of its forms.
Anyway the weather the last few days here has given me fits. It has been so wonderful for me that I accomplish little because: “you don't quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” I my case I want to do something, but I don't quite know what I want to do,but it fairly makes my heart ache. I stand at the window and look out at the wonders of our place and the world and feel frantic because I know these days can't last. So, I really haven't accomplished anything useful at all.
I know I will feel guilty soon. But I hope you can enjoy looking out your window as much as I do looking out ours and leave the guilt for another day and another time.