Creating vs. consuming

Getting this one out a bit late. Life is wild right now. My grandmother is moving in with me tomorrow. That's weird. But I'm excited to have the company. It gets lonely when you work from home. I have totally done something to my knee. Never been in this much pain when I walk before. It is not fun. Going to the doctor in eight hours. Can't sleep.

Here's my thought for today: Are you creating, or are you consuming? which one are you doing more of?

Like everything I write, this is more for me than it is for you. I have to preach to myself! I'm always fighting a consumer-driven spirit within myself. It's a greedy spirit. A spirit that wants to spend, spend, spend, take out credit cards and buy, buy, buy.

It's this spirit in me that compares myself to others, that wants what I can't have. That wants what they have. That resents what I have 'cause it isn't like theirs. I've been doing battle with this mindset and for the first time in my life, I think I'm starting to win. Awareness is winning, right?

I think this temptation in me gets egged on by our consumer-driven culture. The result of 28 years of being totally bombarded by advertisements and fueled by social media, where all around me, all I see are promotions of the new, the now, and the next. I can see everybody's new gear day, new cell phone, new car, new toy.

I have now completely deleted all of my social media accounts in an effort to bash this idol. Because, when I used to scroll through Instagram or Twitter, I'd find post after post of new product releases and advertisements and friends getting things and people bragging about things, all my friends showing off the latest whatever.

It's not wrong to want things, to save your money and buy things, or to talk about what you've bought. It's not wrong to be proud that you were able to save up and buy that thing. Hear me out, what's truly wrong is to let want consume you as you consume things. Or to let desire give way to jealousy and envy.

We look at catalogs, we browse online, we see a commercial, we look to our friends and we so easily let interest become desire become envy. We so often fail to distinguish the differences between interest and envy.

In many ways, consumerism is advertisement-inspired want and word-of-mouth-inspired envy. And we have a real problem in the US with consumerism, just read these 21 facts about how big this problem of accumulating things has become.

I think the only way to combat consuming in our personal lives to promote the opposite: Creating. Consumers ask what's new, now, or next? and how can I spend my money on it? how can I own it? While creators ask, what can I make with my hands? what can I give to the world? what can I turn this into? what kind of statement can I make about what I value?

Consumers are shoppers, always hunting down that next thing. Creators are artists, musicians, writers, sculptors, designers, architects, inventors, woodworkers, craftsmen and craftswomen, tinkerers, programmers, cooks...the list goes on and on.

Consumers are unimaginative—they only know to buy what they're told in advertisements and on social media. Consumers listen to messages like, "You don't know what you're missing out on!" and they respond in the only way they know how, by going and consuming.

In contrast, creators are wildly imaginative—dreaming up entire worlds on paper, making melodies previously unheard, carving out meaning from a formless block of wood or heap of clay.

In a way, we're all both consumers and creators. We all must strike a balance. There are things you simply must consume or you'll die: Food, drink, music, the ball game, great conversation (or maybe we create great conversation), and the news in small doses.

But as much as you must consume, create so much more. Feed your creativity and cultivate it. Your consumerism is fed daily—did you know we see up to 5,000 ads per day?—your consumerism has been conditioned and trained by years and years of messages about what you should buy, who you could become with things.

Your consumerism-muscle is pumped up enough already. It's been in the gym of envy all your life. Starve it to become a creator. Learn a craft, practice a skill, bring something out of nothing.

The alternative is dreadful: You'll be tossed around in an ocean of envy, rocking back and forth between want and get and want and get, carried by the waves of consumer debt and FOMO and 'Keeping up with the Joneses' and having little to no control over impulse. Yuck.