I find myself in a heavy slumber, not totally asleep, but barely awake. The day ends and I settle into my phone to catch up on news, Giants baseball, changes in technology, or some article that seems important to my constant urge to learn something new or to better understand the world. We get the kids to bed and my wife and I turn on Netflix for an hour. Then she drifts to bed and I drift back to all that numbing information. I know the stream never ends and I drift along with it until I force myself ashore to the human need of sleep.
This is consumption.
When I’m floating in it, consumption is fine. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with enjoying an article or baseball game on the radio or listening to the latest music releases. The problem arises for me when it takes up all my free time. The time I spend reading takes time from me writing. The time I spend listening to music is time taken away from playing my trumpet or the piano. It’s not a one-to-one, but if all I do is consume, I’m not creating—I’m not sharing and connecting.
So, where’s the balance?
This whole consumption vs. creation thing seems to boil down to discipline. And maybe that’s where I get stuck: in my free time, I don’t want to have to be disciplined. But if I’m not disciplined about the time I spend consuming information, then it will take up all my time. Another place I get stuck is that if I’m not naturally gravitating toward creating something—writing, music, or whatever—then maybe those things aren’t really important to me. If you ask me I will say they are, but then shouldn’t I feel like doing them when the work is done? Is it that consumption has dulled my creativity? Or is it that the ways I used to create are changing?