You can do anything, if you stop trying to do everything.
There isn't a distinct line dividing creators from consumers. Writers read (consume) a lot of books in order to become good at writing. The true difference between creators and consumers is creators stick to the one thing they're passionate about and transform the passion into creation. I've consumed a tremendous amount of self-help materials--books, podcasts, blogs, audiobooks, workshops, youtube, etc. I consider everything that has to do with optimizing the body and mind from yoga to mindfulness to nutrition to psychology to astrology to be self-development. It's a vast field which fills me with endless curiosity yet it's still the one field that is self-realization. I used to be able to read thick volumes of British and American literatures back when trying to improve English and worldview. These days I can't finish the first chapter of any novel. There's no passion for it even though the interest is there and my English can use some improvement. Instead I read a translation of Upanishads to boost English, Sanskrit, and yogic knowledge and Oliver Emberton's blog for fun.
As much as anyone else I'm guilty of overconsumption. Pondering the massive influence of social media on my psychological wellbeing however has kept me away from consuming it. It's not just the big bad corporations who try to sell me stuff. Everybody is selling something. My life and images become the products I sell with every message and photo I post for likes. They're parts of the entertainment content that is the product for the social media companies to sell to advertisers. To get to the motivation which is the root of action I've asked myself "what are you trying to sell here?" While social media fools me into thinking that I'm an independent agent sharing creativity publicly it also force feeds me a stream of consuming products and divisive ideas. I've decided that I can get off the vicious consumption cycle of the social media without losing my creativity or the right audience. The advertisement is done live in the classes I teach. Folks can come back (or not) to consume the particulars I share. A yearly fees for this website is a small price to pay for an advertisement-free platform to write and create without force-feeding consumer products the audience didn't sign up for.
The goal isn't about consuming less but rather consuming only the essentials that nurture the body and soul, and expand the mind and passion. At the end of this lifetime I want to be able to affirm that I didn't just live the length but the depth of life I've chosen. To accomplish this I've been trying a great variety of things and experiences in order to find the right one--person and method for every single thing I need to live as a conscious creator and consumer. Here are my personal findings so far.
1. Work is the right combination of challenge and triumph. I've always loved drawing. I find it easy and absorbing. But it's not the right job because I have no hangup over it. Teaching on the other hand is challenging and fulfilling. I had a lot of anger toward authority figures when I was young and most of them were teachers. Now I get to be the kind of teacher I wanted to have (the opposite of authoritarian or superior) and sharing the kind of knowledge I've always needed. The funny thing is I get complimented on how kind my folks are. The co-workers at the front desks have told me how they love signing in the participants of my classes because they are kind and sweet. You attract the people you need who have a need for your service.
2. Partnership is the right combination of firmness and tenderness. I grew up in a super codependent household. Dad refused to eat out because mom was the best cook. Mom held grudges against dad yet was completely dependent on his income. They bickered regularly and annoyed the heck out of me. At age 12 I told them to get a divorce and be adult about it. They laughed at my suggestion. I love my parents but they did not inspire me to kindle a long lasting partnership. I've found for myself that for a partnership to last I need respect and boundary to feel free and in love. My husband is kind and has a healthy sense of boundary. He shows me how to be simultaneously tender and firm. I hope I contribute to his life as much as he enriches mine.
3. Family and friendship require honesty and loyalty. I don't need any more and any less is just unfamiliar and unfriendly. Though I don't have many close friends and family members every relationship is long lasting. Also, dogs make perfect family and friends because they excel in honesty and loyalty with unconditional love as and added bonus.
4. Character and style are the stories we tell ourselves and others. What you value become the makeup of your character. They tell the story of how you see others value you. When I think of the ultimate creator I think of the qualities which motivate and define my actions. The qualities I value most are love, truth, and harmony because I need them to function optimally. The ultimate creator is unknowable and unseeable though her expression or creation is all-encompassing. More and more I try to emulate these qualities. The people I admire as creators such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Steve Jobs dressed very simply and elegantly. I'm aiming for the appearance to be the still and silent background for the values and creations to rise up to the foreground of my consciousness and others' awareness.
5. Legacy requires health and wellbeing to support the productivity you generate and the wealth you leave behind. Your unique character and style determine what kind of legacy you bequeath. Coco Chanel had no children yet her legacy lives on. She reopened her fashion house after fifteen years of closing out of boredom at the age of 71. She died in bed at the age of 88 after returning from a walk with a friend. I want to live not just a long but also a fruitful life worthy of my own admiration. The more I can focus on the one thing I want to give to the world the better chance I have of making a life affirming impact in the community I live and work.
To live is to consume. To love is to create. May your creations satisfy your imagination and your creativity satiate your passion and desires.