I think I broke about three molars when I was pregnant with my fourth and fifth children. My need to crunch ice is a more reliable indicator of pregnancy than a positive test. I go from zero to get-me-an-ice-rink at the moment of conception, and it does not stop until I pull up the mesh undies. Maybe it was an iron deficiency, so I turned to liver meatballs, (actually quite good!). Upside = calorie-free snacking option. Down side = broken teeth.
Why why why someone did not buy me an Opal nugget maker, I will never know. (FYI the ice machine is about the best maternity gift you can give an expectant mother.) Instead I had to chew on the huge, superfrozen hunks that my big machine dumped out every hour, and yes. The ice drawer ran out every day.
This is a really dumb anecdote to say that I am not used to
having to go without what I want (ice),
when I want it (every minute),
even if it is bad for me (I can no longer eat popcorn without pain on teeth numbers 2, 15, & 16 respectively).
It’s not a groundbreaking statement to say that we’re in an era of unprecedented consumption–often with no concern for personal hazard. I’m talking everything: food and drink, social media, streaming TV and movies, grocery delivery, Audible, Amazon, me-time, all of it. We don’t even have to go a day without the right kind of ice anymore!
Right in the comfort of our own homes, we have access to everything. We just sop it all up, right now. Sometimes I end a day of hours of mindless consumption and wonder, “Am I dumber today?!”
The very process of consuming is inherently addictive. We keep coming back for more. It puts us into a mindset and a cycle of fear that we will miss something if we don’t continue looking under every rock to see what we can get. We look and search and then strive to consume. Consume. Consume. Is it fear of missing out on the next morsel? It definitely points out our hardwired, innate “me-first.”
All this time spent consuming squanders time we could be creating.
My sister got me really thinking about all this when she wrote about it a few weeks ago:
How many moms (or dads, for that matter) are baking bread? How many of us sit at a piano and sing? And lord knows, I have no business holding a needle and thread. But the more I pondered the suggestions, the more I realized how few opportunities I get in my day to simply create.
Instead, I spend a lot of my time consuming. I go to coffee shops and order food to eat that someone else prepared. I watch television. I listen to podcasts. I scroll through the news. And social media. I scroll and scroll. And scroll. Most of the time, I am a consumer.
For much of human history, culture encouraged and life necessitated creativity. Elite classes were tutored in painting, music, singing and sewing. Even the poorest Americans cooked their own food, built their own furniture, hung their own laundry out to dry. Kids built forts and created little universes in their imaginations while playing House or Store or School.
Creativity is a practice in leadership.
Now, we look for others to follow, simultaneously envying and imitating their success.
Does over-consumption rob us of some of our humanity? When we consume more than we create, are we missing out on an essential piece of our purpose here on this beautiful planet? I believe that we were made to create. It is one of the privileges of being God’s image-bearers. Creativity may even be requisite for feeling valid, significant, effective, feeling alive.
As an army spouse, a multimom, and especially while living abroad in a remote duty location, I’ve had the opportunity to take a very sober look at my day-to-day existence. I don’t have a career to fill my time. Watching after the small children is really mundane. Living outside of my normal society has isolated me. All 3 of these things meshed into a perfect storm of emptiness and sometimes despondency (shameful admission) as I try to make each day feel like it mattered.
In an effort to escape, or in the name of convenience, I consume. But it doesn’t scratch the itch–I want more to show for all this.
Meaning is found in creativity; i.e. creating. Creativity does not have to mean innovation. It just means putting your hand to something, and having something to show for it. I am brainstorming and here is a very short list of ideas.
- Scratch your child’s back
- Painting fingernails
- Piece together and consolidating 5 outfits–hang them in the closet so that they are ready to go
- Make love, in the truest meaning of the phrase.
- Handwrite a note or a journal entry
- Make an old recipe/Try a new recipe
- Exercise (this creates the 10 physical skills)
- Take a walk on a new route
- Host a small gathering around your table.
- Read aloud to someone
- Plant seeds
here is Claire’s list:
- Bake something to give to the neighbors
- Pull out an instrument you used to play, or learn to play one
- Write something that you don’t share
- Take photographs on a real camera, instead of on your phone. Print them out.
- Read a book (preferably a paper one).* (I call this creativity, because it requires imagination, rather than simple consumption. And since reading is a creative endeavor, I imagine that’s why reading rates have gone down. Consuming is easier)
- Rearrange the furniture in your house
- Create a new game to play with your spouse
- Tell a story that you invent, rather than reading from a children’s book
Some are small, some are more substantial/time consuming. Some are simply everyday activities–therefore, we don’t really count them as doing anything special. That’s inaccurate. A lot of the boring stuff in your day is actually creativity, and you’ll see its value if you purposefully take notice…
It is for human touch.
It’s for authentic experience.
It’s for spiritual connection.
It’s for progress.
There is a pressing need to model this kind creativity for our children to compel them forward into their own creativity.
There is no program for this, no scheme to buy into. Just go. Creating is moving forward. Don’t consume, put forth.
How are you putting your hands back into creative pursuits?
Thanks for pointing this out to me, Claire.