A wee while ago I started thinking about how much I consume. And how little I create. And it bothered me. I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly bothered me for awhile, but I felt so uncomfortable. I felt like I was somehow out of balance.
I’m not talking about the consumption of food here (although that often concerns me!), rather the consumption of media. Whether it be good old fashioned free to air television, Netflix, social media, internet, or podcasts, we are consuming information. And a large portion of this consumption is mindless (and pretty constant).
How often have I sat in front of a turned on television, with a laptop on my knee, whilst looking at my cellphone? Way too often. Today, we can get almost anything we want, instantly, at the touch of a button. Entertainment is a top priority for us and most of these platforms enable us to be entertained 24/7 on whatever topic takes our fancy.
The first port of call for me is my Facebook feed. Nothing quite like entertaining yourself with ‘The Joneses’. I sit for long periods of time, scrolling through, mindlessly consuming other people’s curated lives, their ideas, and their feelings. Voyeurism at its finest! My second entertainment go-to is whatever my current podcast binge is (this month its The Portfolio Life). And then finally, usually when I’m too tired, I read. Sure, listening to self-improvement podcasts and reading isn’t all bad…? But, it’s still consumption.
I believe that we get out of balance when we ONLY consume. Our brains, and our souls, need to create.
So, what is creation?
The dictionary definition is “the action or process of bringing something into existence”. I like the simple explanation that it’s making something (anything) out of NOTHING. And everyone can do this. In fact, I think this is part of the bigger picture for our whole human race. Part of our purpose on this earth is to create.
I used to think I wasn’t very creative. I couldn’t play a musical instrument, I couldn’t draw or paint, and I certainly couldn’t dance! I bought into the idea we’ve been fed that creativity is only for the enlightened. That some people just didn’t have creative personalities. Creativity was for the long haired, floaty clothed, whimsical, spur of the moment people. This was not me. I was a self confessed type A, analytical, OCD, schedule every minute of the day person. No room for art or creativity here!
But, as I sat with my newly found discomfort, this feeling of being out of balance… fat on consumption, I realized that I was wrong. I was creative. I just hadn’t been creating. And something needed to change.
So I began to think back over my life. When I really searched, deep through the tall weeds of consumption, I found some lovely wild flowers. Like the make believe games I created when I was a child. The poetry I created as an angst teenager. The essays and reports I created as a university student. There was even the odd bit of art tucked away at the edges of the meadow…
[Who said you can’t make a paper mache unicorn]
There were some really beautiful flowers in there!
So I realized that I was creative. And not only that. I loved creating. I felt very ‘complete’ when I was creating.
And I believe that creating is NOT – and shouldn’t be limited to what is often thought of as the creative ‘arts’. Like painting, music, writing, film, and so forth.
What do you create?
- Are you a gardener? You are creating a garden.
- Are you a researcher? You are creating a story that supports your numbers.
- Are you a swimmer or runner? You a creating the perfect stroke or stride for your sport.
- Are you a parent? Well, apart from the obvious (you created tiny humans), you are creating a family.
- Do you work at a department store? You can create an atmosphere for your workplace.
And let me pause to put in a good word for mindful consumption. We need to consume a certain amount and part of this is because it lights our creative fires. When we see what other people have created we get inspired. And if we don’t do something with that inspiration we begin to feel a bit out of whack. Like me, you may not be able to put your finger on it for awhile. It might be a strange feeling of discontent, a moodiness that you can’t shake.
Maybe take a moment to think about how you can turn the tables and get your balance back. What could you do today, this week to create? Your inner artist doesn’t need to be confined to a canvas or an instrument. Go forth and make something out of nothing!