By Trent Rentsch
A grunt escapes my lips as I lean down to tie my cross trainers. It’s an omen of grunts to come; I’m as sure of this as I am the fact that I need the elbow brace I’m strapping to my left arm. Add one large bottle of water and my mp3 player and the look is complete... the look of a reluctant middle-aged man about to do battle with his widening waistline.
It’s not like this battle hasn’t been fought off and on for years. A lifetime pursuit of the “3 T’s” (Thinking, Typing, Talking) is not conducive to an athletic body... at least it hasn’t been for me. But lately I’ve been feeling like I need to work harder at dropping some of the tonnage. It has nothing to do with the fact that my class reunion is coming up this summer. I also haven’t had any health scares; no doctor has been nagging me about my family history or statistics which prove that “something” might happen. I’ve simply noticed that heavy things don’t lift as easily as they did. I also have some pains that linger... and linger (hence the need for the elbow brace, for example). I won’t be 20, 30... even 40, again, but if I want to keep moving forward, this broken down old “temple” needs some preventative maintenance.
While I haven’t been a constant and determined fan of fitness, I do believe in exercise, and I buy into the saying, “Use it or lose it.” I might have to be pushed and prodded to pump iron, but when it comes to exercising my production and writing muscles, I’m a gym rat.
I realized how important being Creatively fit was long ago. During my first stint as a Production Director, the workload was intense (which, of course, turned out to be the norm). The wide-eyed optimism that I had an endless supply of brilliant ideas was soon crushed by the reality of providing Creativity on tap, and I soon found the well not only had a bottom, but could also go dry. Luckily, that was also about the same time that I discovered a book which became one of my Creative bibles, “A Whack on the Side of the Head,” by Roger Von Oech. It was filled with all sorts of ways to push, pull, and stretch those hard to reach places where ideas come from. When I saw the results such exercises gave me, I began to make them a habit... and also searched out other Creative Fitness Gurus.
One exercise I particularly enjoyed was absorbing the Creativity of others, usually in mediums outside my own. Art, music, theatre... I had always had the interest, but I came to realize that being exposed to the Creative expressions of others made my own better. As time went by, I found that dabbling in other Creative arts was an even more direct way of filling the well. It also sent me down roads I never expected.
As I mentioned, I’m always on the lookout for new Creative gurus. You might have read my column a few months ago about one of my latest, Magician Jay Sankey. If you didn’t, the short story on Jay is that he invents magic tricks that are used by all the big names you’ve heard of, as well as amateurs around the world. He’s also a talented standup comedian and Creative thinker. His book, “Beyond Secrets” was a Creative revelation to me, and as a geek fan of his magic and thoughts, I sent him an email. We began to communicate off and on, and when he found out that I worked with audio, he asked me if I could come up with “some beats” for a comedy rap song he had written. I’ve been Creating little hunks of noise for spots for years, so I told him I’d give it a shot. He liked, he used it to produce a comedy video, end of story... or not.
Another email arrived early this Spring. It seemed that Jay was working on “his biggest DVD yet,” and wanted to know if I could produce a couple of pieces of background music for it. The DVD was called, “Kaleidoscope,” and featured some pretty amazing magic tricks, all taught in the wild, energetic Jay Sankey style, so he wanted something techy, upbeat and quirky. A couple of tracks turned into a few... then into around 15. Jay was happy with them, and I was excited to be part of the project. Then Jay suggested something I hadn’t considered. “This stuff is really good,” he told me. “Why not produce your own CD? I will help you market it to my customers.” Why not? I couldn’t give him a reason. So after spending some time expanding the tracks into full length songs, “The Sankey Directive” is being released.
The past year and a half has been, interesting. Lose a job, hunt for a job, hunt for a job... hunt for a job. I won’t lie; it broke my Creative spirit a little. But finding a way to flex those Creative muscles again has brought me back to life. It doesn’t matter if I sell any CD’s; the fact that I’m exercising the Creative part of me again has given me the strength to keep trying. No matter what life throws at you, you gotta be in shape to keep moving forward.