The discussion around creation vs. consumption has been had fairly regularly in recent years, and for good reason. Society today is geared towards ease of consumption. Bored? Open Facebook, scroll away an hour. Hungry? Uber Eats. Want to relax after a long day? Fire up a movie!
These are all everyday scenarios that we are very familiar with. What do each one of these have in common? They are all based on consumption not creation. Why do I make this point? My thinking is simply this: All too often, a person's default action when faced with a primal need, a need for sustenance, love, joy or fulfillment is to consume. In addition to this, because of technology it is now very easy to do it in a mindless way.
Let us take the scenarios outlined in the first paragraph. Imagine how much more fulfilling life would be if your default reactions were as follows: Bored? Write an opinion piece. Hungry? Open the pantry, create a gourmet meal from whatever you can find there. Want to relax after a long day? Spend time with a loved one (no screens!) or indulge in a creative hobby. Do you see the difference?
I would like to clear up a couple of things here. I am not against technology, but I think on balance it should be used more for creation than consumption. I am not against consumption - but it should be mindful consumption.
There are different types of creation and consumption. I like to categorise them thus: Forced Creation, Mindful Creation, Mindless Consumption and Mindful Consumption. I will endeavour to elucidate below.
Forced Creation is what we are often faced with in our places of work. (Not all are, I am aware.) We may be busy creating, stretching our minds and intelligence, and it may be for the best of reasons - but deep down we do not want to do it. Our hearts are not in it. It is not necessarily a bad thing, forced creation, but as with all of these concepts we must strive for balance. We must even out our exertions in Forced Creation with Mindful Creation and Mindful Consumption.
Mindful Creation is the most fulfilling of these four concepts. This is where we are at our most innovative, our most relaxed and at peace. This is where there are no deadlines, we are creating for the pure joy of creation and indeed discovery. This is the space where the best books are written, things are discovered and relationships forged. A place where passion and energy are free to operate, and yet, perhaps paradoxically, it is in this place we find fulfillment, satisfaction and relaxation.
Here we delve into the great plague of the modern day. Mindless Consumption out of balance is the bane of humanity, reducing us to drooling ineffective idiots awaiting the next glamorous Facebook post or inane tweet from a 'celebrity' we do not even know. Or we sit and watch a movie - the figment of another person's imagination fed to us from a widescreen TV while vegetating in a sofa. What are we doing here? Are we trying to dull the pain of a meaningless existence by substituting the fake excitement of the entertainment world? Perhaps. What I know for certain is that if you substitute even a small amount of your Mindless Consumption time for Mindful Creation or Mindful Consumption the benefits are immense. Lethargy decreases and you once again discover the warm glow of achievement... that feeling for so long buried by the flashing screen.
Mindful Consumption is usually where we learn, where we research, we seek out information. If you study, whether it be Scripture, the academic realms or any other worthwhile pursuit, you are indulging in Mindful Consumption. You are learning - and that is a noble thing. Mindful Consumption greatly enhances your effectiveness in both Forced and Mindful Creation. You may read an academic treatise, you may watch a documentary about a subject you are genuinely curious about. Whatever your tastes or leaning, Mindful Consumption is rarely wasted.
We cannot spend our whole life in our preferred state of Consumption or Creation, but what we do have control over is the balance between the four. It is up to you to get the balance right for you - but here is a tip. You will not regret - in the slightest - taking time from your Mindless Consumption allocation and adding it to Mindful Creation or Mindful Consumption. Once you start on this journey you will not want to return...