In the novel Infinite Jest, a film makes its way around that, upon watching, is so damn good, it kills the viewer. They literally sit there … stupefied, soiling themselves, failing to eat or hydrate or move, until their body surrenders to death. Anyone attempting to save the person will invariably catch a glance of the film themselves, and follow suit.
This is what it’s like to be alive today. Except, rather than a single deadly film, it’s millions of hours of content available on video services and countless ways to amuse ourselves. And rather than physical death, it’s psychological – every moment consuming a missed chance to discover, and share, your inner genius. You know you possess inner genius, right?
This is not to suggest consuming is evil, nor suggest all types of consuming are equally consequential. Even so:
For all the hours you are awake, how many do you spend consuming, vs reflecting, vs creating? 50% consuming? 80% consuming? 95%? Perhaps your smartphone’s “screen time” stats serve as one clue.
Maybe you convinced yourself long ago: “I’m not a creative type”, and you truly believe this. You accepted being a cog in society, and life is simply a cycle of working, novel amusement, and sleep. This, is the metaphorical death sentence.
Ironically, even right now, you are consuming, yes? As you read these words, dopaminergic magic is swirling in your brain – making you feel a sense of comfort and delight in “acquiring information” and soothing some urge that brought you here in the first place. We are informavores, after all.
But, please, hit the eject button. Make a note-to-self right now and do not destroy the note until you’ve accomplished this. Allocate some portion of your life to expressing yourself regularly – even if the only audience is you. Even if no other soul ever cares. For your own sake.
It could be writing, painting, music, photography, coloring, making, tinkering, building.
Let it out.
Turn the faucet on, and be absolutely astonished, not only at what comes out, but how fantastic it feels – how infinitely it flows. Not every moment is bliss – creativity is often hard, frustrating, seemingly aimless. Accept all of this as part of the process.
As you express, of course you can share. But never let this be the primary concern. Express to explore the vastness inside of you. Accept what it is, whatever it is. Try new things. Don’t feel discouraged. The only way you can fail is to believe it’s possible to fail. You are your sole judge.
(11/29/22) I will return soon and add some launching-off points. For the moment – please take this fundamental reflection with you:
Consumption will eat you alive, if you allow it. And while it might feel satisfying in each moment, consumption might be starving you of one of the most fantastic aspects of being alive – really coming to understand the enormity of the human spirit inside of you. The creative mind. This state of being is a gift. And if you are able to touch it, any other way of being will seem superfluous. You will be so thrilled, that you can be your own source of wonder. Who knew? Sadly, not many, (as Infinite Jest, and many similar reflections, attest to).