We should be creators, not just consumers

By Father Adam Grelinger, Guest Writer

When was the last time you created something?

We know the benefits of living in a society that churns out cheap products and entertainments in a never-ending stream. Our daily routine often includes listening to music on Spotify, watching a show on Netflix, and buying something on Amazon. It’s shocking to think that having this much entertainment at our fingertips would have been very rare 50 years ago and downright impossible 100 years ago.

At the beginning of the year, I did somewhat of a digital diet, forcing myself to find new ways to engage my free time. Released from the incessant noise, I heard my imagination’s voice come through more clearly than I had in a long while.

I found myself writing short poems. Then, when the pandemic arrived, I contributed to a couple story projects and now I am finishing up my own short fiction book. This is not normal for me! (Save that one time I had a flurry of creativity during finals week in seminary. Not a good time for it, by the way.)

Not only has it been a blast to dream up stories and poetic insults of friends (a lost art form indeed), I have also noticed a real contrast in my mood. After spending time on creative efforts, I’m energized. I feel the zest for life and an excitement to do anything, even the pesky dishes. I would choose this vitality over the normal lethargy I feel after spending time consuming generic entertainment any day.

There are great books, movies, and shows no doubt. But then there’s the thousands of hours of all that other forgettable nonsense produced by big companies just to waste our time. Even the news cycle holds our attention span longer than it should. It’s good to keep up with current events but deadening to stay in too long. Creative endeavors can help to process these things and then, more importantly, move our minds on to other more joyous things.

I criticize mass entertainment only to emphasize our incredible, God-given ability to create. And don’t say you’re not creative! You may not be able to generate great things now. Most of my stuff is elementary. Yet humans are wildly capable of growth where focus is applied. Creativity is a skill we can develop and grow through practice. It is also remarkably entertaining!

Kobe Bryant so appreciated the power of stories that, after retiring from his basketball career, he studied storytelling, co-wrote a few young adult novels, and had started working on a children’s book before his untimely death. He recognized both the power and the pure delight in creating art!

Will you or I write the next best-selling screenplay? Who cares? Will you have a phenomenal time writing it? Yea, I’d say the chances are good.

We have a near-divine ability to create. The Creator so deemed to make us sub-creators. We can manifest this in an infinite number of ways, yet we so often surrender our own creativity and accept a game, trinket, or a story from some company.

Anymore, I’m kinda over being a mindless consumer. I’ve rediscovered a much more thrilling pursuit!

So, from my unexpected experience, I extend an invitation. If you normally spend all your free time consuming something produced by a company, try creating something yourself: compose a campfire song, write a goofy poem, craft a witty joke, carve a block of wood, draft a fantasy story, or make a new game.

These pursuits are not reserved for the professionals just as basketball isn’t restricted to the pros. You may not be able to play perfectly, but you can still play and have a darn good time. Whatever you do, I’d recommend keeping it whimsical and lighthearted.

Your imagination is a sandbox. Embrace your inner child and have some fun in there.

PHOTO: Murphy Obershaw, A&E Editor