In exactly 6 months to the day, I will turn 40. A few months ago, this meant nothing to me. It was just a number on the calendar, an inevitable milestone of sorts, if you wish. But this year has been very different in comparison to the last few years of my life. Perhaps it has shaped the way I look at things today.The year began with moving into a new home. Almost immediately afterwards, I had a severe bout of illness which lasted nearly 8 weeks. In the months that followed, I grew older, a lot wiser and somewhat humbled by the lessons that life threw in my path.
Very often, I stumble upon interesting articles that help in shifting perspective from what I think, to what I know to be true. One of those was this piece: Create more than you consume.
Perhaps it’s the timing of the piece or the space I am in, but it hit me hard. Here I was, at a defining stage of my life and I had a choice. What was I going to do?
What I always do best: I made a list.
You may know that I started on a meditation and mindfulness practice a while ago. As a part of the daily habit, I began writing in my journal. Some days it was a series of tasks to be done. Other days, it was a rambling entry about my space in the universe. Another day it was a micro-poem, dashed off in a fit of inspiration, but not really fit for public consumption. Yet another day it would be something as simple as my grocery inventory.
Each of these tasks helped me in their own way. They gave me structure when I needed it. They gave me calm when I craved it.
Keeping this in mind, last week, at a rather low point , I sat and stared at my journal. A part of me whispered, ‘What’s the point? Why are you even doing this all? What are you getting out of it?’ I closed my eyes and asked myself, ‘What do you enjoy doing? What creative pursuit makes you content, by itself, not because of the possible outcomes?’
And the answer emerged in another list. These are the things, in no particular order, that I enjoy the most:
*Writing and the creative process
Going back to the first part of this post: am I making the effort to create more than I consume?
Blogging for me has always been about two things: the writing and the learning that comes from this space every day. I started on a very relaxed note way back in 2007. When I began blogging in earnest again in 2013, I could sense that there was more to blogging than met the eye.
Today, after 4 years of consistent blogging, I can tell you that the passion to blog hasn’t abated. If anything, it continues to thrive. I love to blog. Be it a meditative piece or an instructional piece, I enjoy seeing the blog come together. It’s like the feeling a sculptor has when the different bits of clay mould and fit perfectly to create a thing of joy. (Keats, anyone?)
This also means that the more time I spend creating and learning, the less time I spend consuming. Social media is now (finally) a tool that I can use without addiction. I’ve spent almost 3 years trying to break my bond with this beast, but I forgot an important thing. It was only a beast if I looked at it that way. If I engaged in acrimonious debates or spent hours scrolling through a feed populated with pictures or winced at people ranting, who is to blame? Easy to blame the platform and other people, but how we use our time is in our hands.
Want to know how I overcame this? (Apart from not installing the facebook app on my phone, I mean). Every time I looked at my Facebook feed, I would ask myself, ‘Why am I here?’ If the answer was a specific purpose, I found that I performed the action and left the platform with no anger or bitterness.
I am a part of many useful groups on Facebook, both as a blogger and a parent. So I switched to directly clicking on the ‘Groups’ icon in my sidebar, instead of the News feed and checking updates or posting queries there. Then, I would look at my notifications, respond to messages and leave. If time permitted, I scrolled once through my news feed and engaged with the posts I cared about. Of course, I share my own content. But the choice of consumption is left to the reader.
What then, is writing? Isn’t it the same as blogging? Technically, it is. But if I were to look at the creative aspect, writing is so very different. Writing exists by and of itself. It doesn’t need to be anything more. If the writing process is one of sheer joy , then I’d say you’re doing writing right.
What happened in this space? I discovered that I was not writing enough. Instead, I was on social media asking about writing more, reading about writing better, sharing articles on ‘how to be a good writer and write everyday’, but not actually writing. Hmm, see the problem?
I love this blog. I love the fact that I have a space to express myself as a writer, but I haven’t been doing much of that lately, have I?
Last week, I shifted both my blogs to a secure version. At that point, I wondered, does it make sense to merge the two blogs? Who has the energy to maintain 2 blogs? Plus there are a ton of blogs out there! What difference will one less blog make?
So, I made a decision. I would keep blogging and writing separate. This blog will go back to being a blog on writing, the creative process, flash fiction and personal essays (like this one). The other blog will be about parenting, my life as a mom and blogging tips and strategies.
Seeing it all written down made it much clearer, somehow.
Finally, I’m working on mindfulness in all aspects of my life- work, blogging, social media, relationships and personal growth. By the time I am 40, I need to be able to say that I’ve grown. I need to forgive more and move forward. I need a better handle on my patience levels, even though I don’t yell. I must steer away from thinking negatively of people, even unwittingly. I need to work on making Time my ally and friend, instead of something that I race against, every single day.
By creating more and consuming less, I believe that this is possible. Six months later, I have no idea if I will be around (life’s short and unpredictable, right?). But, if I am, I have to be damn sure that I walk into my 40’s with my head held high and with a skip in my step.
*If you enjoyed this post and would like to leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you. You can use either the Facebook comment box or the regular commenting system to leave your thoughts.
32 thoughts on “Shifting perspective: Why we should create more than we consume”
Bang on! I use each platform the way it should be used- No rants, no outrage and definitely not engaging on contentious topics. Life is so fleeting and beautiful, why spend even a minute of it on any of these things? I now actually enjoy social media (finally), since I’ve learnt how to work alongside the noise 🙂 It’s hugely inspiring. Of course, I read a LOT of articles and watched a TON of videos on technology, gadgets and social media that really widened my perspective on usage and consumption, so that made a huge difference to my approach. It’s not easy, but I am happy where I am now 🙂
This post truly resonates with me. There is so much that I can say ditto to, so many mistakes that I have done as well, so many of the same challenges that I have overcome too.
For instance, I have really (and finally) learnt to use Social Media as a tool.
I deleted the Facebook & Twitter app & messenger in Jan 2017, and this is relatively more recent, but I have stopped contributing to extremely controversial posts on FB, even if I have a strong opinion about it.
It’s just such a time-suck. We comment, others reply, the casual discussion gets heated, and it doesn’t even end soon as everyone wants the last word. And all this time and energy spent on what is essentially negativity in our lives.
Anyway, thankfully I have learnt to use my time more wisely now. At-least on Social Media. Small victories. 🙂
Loved every bit of this Shailaja!
This post was open in my browser for over 4 days and after finally finishing to read this, I realized how could I not read a good one when I was right there.
I just published a post on instant gratification and all that social media craziness. Reading your post is another affirmation that we need to stay mindful and do what brings us happiness. I liked how you separated blogging and writing. For now, I am mixing both but I would like to get to the clarity you are at. Thanks for kindling thoughts this side.
Cool, I will do that.. Do follow my blog for updates ?
I am thinking about merging both my blogs, but some part of me doesn’t like the idea of losing either of the blogs. Thankfully, I am able to blog even though I have to force myself to make time to do it. Some days, these interactions are the only ones I have. My social media interactions are way too low that sometimes I forget to share my posts on my Facebook page. As you said, Facebook can be overwhelming only if we let it so. We can choose not to read the hateful articles and not to interact with such posts. I have to figure out a lot on my end, I guess in time I might get some idea. Who knows! Always a pleasure to read you, Shailaja. 🙂
Glad you could relate to it! Do let me know what you manage to create in the next month or so 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
Thanks for the post. This really gives a new perspective to where writers or in general creators can go wrong. We live in an era where info is available in plenty and it’s our duty to filter what we consume. And what better way than creating more than consuming. I will try to follow this to improve my creative routine 🙂
Instagram can become very addictive if you allow it, so tread carefully there. I’ve turned off all app notifications so the pull is much lower than it would be otherwise. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Shilpa!
Thank you, Shalini. Words like these make my day, especially when I’m feeling low and sleep deprived, like today. Much love and hugs coming your way.
Thank you, Mahati. Hope they are helpful 🙂
So true about reading, Soumya. That’s exactly how I feel. Remember that last book review of a man called Ove? I feel that thrill with every book these days and I’m so grateful. He he, totally look forward to that firefighter date of ours 🙂
You are on a creative burst and I am thrilled to see it. And you’ve got the social media thing down pat! Keep going and keep creating, Shilpa. The world needs more creators.
I loved the concept of creating more than we consume. It’s shaping my outlook more and more these days. For me, writing is therapy. So I understand it won’t be the same for everyone. I feel better when I write. Even if it’s just a paragraph a day so I intend to keep doing it for as long as I can. 🙂
And may we all blog for many more years to come, Ramya. So very happy that you’re happy blogging 🙂
Thank you, Anu. I completely agree on the ‘what others think’ bit. Find myself not worrying about it anymore. The 30s have been painful, in that sense but they have helped me grow. So lovely to see you here on the blog ?
That’s so gratifying, Naba. Always do what keeps you happy and grounded. Never change. I love you for the person you are.
Totally relate to that, Roshan. It can be depressing. I learnt that the hard way. Wish you all the best for the reassessment.
Thank you so much, Jaish 🙂
The sheen of Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp has worn off for me. I am new to Instagram, so still exploring it. As for blogging, now I write when I can, though there were times when I used to fret over not updating my blog. I guess, age does this to you!! Cheers to the 40s and let me tell you that you are doing great!
Social media has been a trend with me; first I was hooked to FB, then Pintrest, then twitter and finally insta – now I am bored of it all!! I dont partake in the rants / campaigns/ paste this on your wall if you care kinda posts and stuff.
I do the same as you; stick to the relevant stuff, read what I want to and not scroll through timelines and feed and definitely not embroil in any political rants that are on! Not even “feminist” trivia – most of the times these women have no clue what being a feminist means!
I love your writing- I have said it before too! Whenever I read something you have written, it feels like you have weighed out each line and then put it into the post! I always feel calm and happy after reading your posts since they are so peaceful and happy!
Keep writing Shy – I get to learn a lot that ways from you 🙂
I loved the last line. Keep your head high and walk to 40s. I like your tips on wasting less time on social media. I will try.
You said this so beautifully, Shy! We definitely need to create more than we consume and learn something in the process. When I sit down to read, some fools ask me what’s the point in wasting time. They think reading is not a creative process. But I learn so much from reading and I create and feel various emotions within me. They make me feel alive. If only they knew that.
Technology has consumed most of our lives these days. But we need to sit down, let go and do something for ourselves, by ourselves. That’s what matters at the end of the day.
It doesn’t take much to create happiness. One can just sit with a friend and check out the pictures of some hot firefighters and cute animals and be the happiest at that point of time 😉
It’s been some time now since I have reduced my time on the social media, namely, Facebook and Instagram. I check the notifications in the morning for 10 mins or so, then switch off the wifi of my phone. Then I plug in again at around 11 and begin writing/commenting/reading posts. The urge to check every notification has diminished considerably. And, most importantly, I switch off the phone in the evening after loading my ink sketch. I give myself at least 10 to 12 hours of break from the online world, and it feels excellent! 😀
We did talk about going off for a day or two but I am enjoying this new schedule. And, I am enjoying writing and creating much more than i used to. Probably it is the effect of the ‘unplugging’, but, this is one change I am happy I brought into my life, after 44! 😛
When I saw the topic, I thought it must be a post on minimalist living. 🙂 This is quite interesting. Never thought of it in that manner. While I have genuinely begun to feel bored and meaningless when it comes to social media interactions, I am okay with writing less or more as the mood dictates. There are days when I am on voracious reading spree. For me both writing and reading are dictated by the time I have and the joy they bring me.
OKie so I am going to comment on this post, as well as add to what Roshan has to say. The charm of social media has worn off me too. And yes I maintian them but not really in a very active way. But, i have the passion to blog, and to sustain it in the long run. Infact, this passive approach to social media , has helped me tremendously. I blog better, I feel good, and am able to spend time with my family too. There is no race… feel more calm too…
I started calling myself a Bad Consumer long time back. It helped me consume only what I really need. That tells me that I still have to work on creating more. Nice thoughts and welcome to 40s – they bring with them a carefree attitude where ‘what others think’ stops bothering you.
I know what you mean. As I grow older,I’m finding myself more detached from all the surplus of life. Social media or engagement with people on social media seems like a chore to me and I only stay there for my blog and a few friends & family. But apart from that I have only been trying to focus on what really matters at the end of the day.
This is something I need to pursue too in the long run. Of late, the charm of Facebook has worn off for me and a major part of why I maintain the profile is for the blogs sake at this point of time.
Need to take a deep breath and do so reassessing of my own.
I understand….wanted to leave a longer comment but sometimes I guess a simple ” I understand ” says it all …take care 🙂
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