Choosing to Create More and Consume Less

Oliver Roos
Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash

Yesterday, I read the Medium article: Are You a Consumer or a Creator? by Melissa Chu. Ms. Chu writes about the prolific life of Pablo Picasso, who in his lifetime created 147,800 works of art. Imagine what it would take to produce that much content. As Ms. Chu writes, “He wasn’t reading about painting, thinking about painting, or watching someone else paint. Picasso was painting. He was creating, on average, over five works every single day of the year.”

The article had its intended effect on me. What am I doing in life? Am I a consumer or a creator? I was almost unable to finish the article, because it was a form of consumption. After I read it, I sat there and considered for a moment what I should do next. Typically, I would move on to the next article or open my Kindle app and start reading. I would consume.

I love to read. On average, I spend 3-4 hours every day reading. I want to write more. I would love to say one day that I’m a professional writer, but I do not spend 3-4 hours every day writing. As Epictetus says, “If you want to be a writer, write.” Right now, I am a reader. I am a consumer.

When I have time to myself, when I am not working, exercising,or spending time with family, what am I doing? If I’m not reading, I’m watching instructional videos on YouTube or playing a word game on my phone. Like reading, these activities may make me smarter. Is being smarter improving my life? Once again, I am consuming and not creating.

The purpose of knowledge is action, not knowledge. –Aristotle

Is all consumption bad? Of course not. But if I want to go where I hope to go in life, I need to practice more moderation in the amount of content that I consume. I need to focus more time on the activities that will get me to where I want to go. Knowing the theories on how to navigate the path will never be an adequate substitute for walking the path.

When you sit too long at one thing, you get stiff. The simple act of getting up and moving becomes difficult. But once you are up and moving, you have momentum on your side. Once you stop consuming and start creating on a regular basis, the ability to continue creating gets easier. If you do this, there will be no regret at the end of the day. There will be no regret of wasted time. 

We must all either wear out or rust out, every one of us. My choice is to wear out. –Theodore Roosevelt

Every night before I go to bed, I try to read a little fiction to relax my mind and eyes. I am currently on the Ninth Stage of John Bunyan’s Christian classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress. In this stage, the two pilgrims are walking the straight and narrow path to the Celestial City when they come to a fork in the road. Both ways seem straight, yet they have to make a choice. They end up choosing the wrong path which leads them away from their destination. Soon they find themselves trapped in a net and in need of rescue. How did they go wrong? They failed to consult their map and review their written instructions.

As I think about consuming versus creating, I am reminded of this fork in the road. Both ways seem straight. They appear tolead in the same direction, but only one way will end at the intended destination. By choosing to consume rather than create, the hunger will grow to consume more. How long can you keep going before you become trapped like the pilgrims on their journey?

Having conceived of his purpose, a man should mentally mark out a straight pathway to its achievement, looking neither to the right nor left. –James Allen

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