As I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook one day, I saw an article from Business Insider about how to achieve financial independence that caught my eye. “I retired at 34, and here are the 7 best pieces of advice I can give you about money.” My curiosity piqued, I decided to follow the link and check out these tips that could possibly bring me riches. My take-away from this article however was far greater than the 7 best pieces of advice. Each point was solid and practical, made sense and was actually do-able. Number 4, however, struck a chord: “Stop Consuming; Start Creating.” The three short paragraphs were potent, starting with a simple declaration, “Consuming provides temporary happiness but creating provides lasting happiness.” I immediately thought of the many people with whom I work everyday, people whose lives have been shattered by overconsumption of alcohol, other drugs, food and sex as they search for immediate relief, escape and peace of mind. And then, I read on….”It’s easy to come home from work and consume four hours of television, but it’s much harder to do something creative like write a blog post, make some jewelry, or practice a musical instrument….” This advice was not about overconsumption, it was about consumption versus creativity. It was about passivity vs. activity. It was about mindlessness vs. mindfulness. It was about taking vs. giving. And, for me, the ultimate take away was the realization that rather than nourishing me, consumption drains me, it does not fill me up. Creativity fills me up, enlivens me, and rejuvenates my spirit.
I began to pay attention to my habits and challenged myself to a little experiment. When I arrived home from work and thought about scrolling on Facebook, sitting down to watch the Giants game, or mindlessly eating or drinking something… I decided to do something creative first and then, if I wanted to engage in any of those other activities, I could do so. WOW! I started writing again, I drew, I made a delicious, new meal for my family, and designed a course. Each and every time I have chosen to take on this little challenge with myself, I have felt a sense of vitality and fulfillment. This blog is the outcome of today’s decision to first do something creative, then read the crime novel saved on my Kindle app. I am pleased. My end-of-day fatigue fell away and I felt a surge of energy.
Whether you watch hours of television, consume a glass (or a bottle) of wine, eat a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream, surf the internet, shop on Amazon, or peruse Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest for hours, I invite you to take the challenge… engage in something creative FIRST. Draw, Paint, Cook, Build, Sculpt, Bead, Dance, Write, Snap a picture, Play the piano. Use your child’s crayons, finger paints, or colored markers. Let go of perfection and just go for it! I promise you, you will not be disappointed.
In closing, I’d like to share this passage from Elizabeth Gilbert’s most recent, creative masterpiece, Big Magic (page 172) :
“We all need something that helps us to forget ourselves for a while – to momentarily forget our age, our gender, our socio economic background, our duties, our failures, and all that we have lost and screwed up. We need something that takes us so far out of ourselves that we forget to eat, forget to pee forget to mow the lawn, forget to resent our enemies, forget to brood over our insecurities. Prayer can do that for us, community service can do it, sex can do it, exercise can do it, and substance abuse can most certainly do it (albeit with god-awful consequences) – but creative living can do it, too. Perhaps creativity’s greatest mercy is this: By completely absorbing our attention for a short and magical spell, it can relieve us temporarily from the dreadful burden of being who we are. Best of all, at the end of your creative adventure, you have a souvenir – something you made, something to remind you forever of your brief but transformative encounter with inspiration.”
I invite you to take the challenge, be daring, adventurous, and curious. Nourish your spirit with what it desperately seeks…. vibrant color, joyful movement, and most of all, passionate, unbridled CREATIVITY.