Humans are engines for transformation.
Don’t believe me? OK, let’s try an experiment. Close your eyes… Take a deep breath in through your nose… hold your breath for a moment… and then release the breath with a long loud sigh through your mouth.
Congratulations, you’ve just succeeded in transforming the molecules in the air that you breath by extracting oxygen to your blood stream and exhaling carbon dioxide as waste.
Our transformation process begins with, but doesn’t end with the breath. In each waking moment we humans are transforming energy: that stored in our food into usable calories that power our thoughts and actions.
OK, so what Marc? Birds do this. Dogs do this. Trees and other plants do this. So in that sense, every living being is an engine of transformation.
This may be true, but humans can take it a step further — the transformation of ideas.
We live in a world in which information is ever prevalent. There is enough out there to consume 24/7. There’s enough that we could spend our whole lives consuming, but we naturally will hit a breaking point.
Go back to the experiment we tried earlier. Imagine that rather than exhaling, you hold the breath for as long as possible. Well 1 of 2 things would happen:
You’d pass out from the lack of oxygen flow to your brain
You’d reach a point where you could no longer hold it in and you’d explode
Take it a step further — imagine you just continued to inhale, nonstop, pulling in as much air as we possibly could — of course you’d eventually reach the full capacity of your lungs.
It’s impossible for us to absorb without release — and this applies to ideas too — just as our lungs have a finite capacity, our brains have a finite capacity.
This is why we MUST CREATE.
It is a key element of the human experience to be a creator — whether you are an artist, writer, dancer, yogi, entrepreneur, social media star, or fitness guru — you MUST CREATE.
Yet we’re hesitant to transform the ideas we absorb into creations. We read, watch, and listen ad nausea via our smart phones and computers. How many info apps do you have? A quick count gives me 12 on my phone:
Facebook, Facebook messenger, Instagram, Whatsapp, Telegram , WeChat, Twitter, Medium, LinkedIn, iTunes podcasts, Spotify, YouTube
Each of these applications in itself provides a barrage of information and it’s simply impossible to keep up.
Imagine you’re at a Golden Coral buffet and you are frickin’ HUNGRY. So you grab a plate, and start loading it to the brim. You take the Caesar salad, the rigatoni, the skirt steak, the mashed potatoes, the broccoli, the french fries, a baguette, some pie, some cookies, a Diet Coke and a water.
You sit down and you go to town.
10 minutes later, plate 1 is clean, but you’re not done yet; you’re a regular Kobayashi, so you get back up and load up round 2, then round 3, and on and on and on you go. For 2 straight hours, you do NOTHING BUT CONSUME.
Of course it would be impossible to keep going. After the buffet, one must digest, and after digestion… well, let’s just say something new is created, but we don’t need to go into the details here.
I liken this to the modern day buffet of media that we have available to us.
Let me tell you something — my head is full and it feels like its going to burst. I simply cannot keep up, and yet I continue to consume — the marginal utility of which declines with every letter I read.
Why has it become so hard to stop consuming? And worse yet, why does it feel so much harder to digest this information and transform it into something new — to create something of my own?
Creation should be inevitable, it is the output of a fully functioning system — absorb, transform, create, and repeat.
This is why humans MUST CREATE — if only to digest and transform that which we’ve absorbed.
This is why I write this today.
It’s been a solid nine months since I’ve published anything on Medium. I’ve been sitting at the table consuming all the information I can get my hands…and then some. But I’ve done so with limited transformation and even less creation.
The act of processing is simply not enough. I MUST CREATE, even if it means creating something imperfect, poorly written, with zero (ok, limited) edits (I am for sure going to read this over at least once).
So if we as humans must create, why don’t we? And more personally, why have I not written anything in so long?
I think there are a many factors at play here, but going to hone in on two.
For starters, consuming is EASY. Ever sat down at a restaurant and ordered your favorite dish, only to black out upon its arrival and awaken to an empty plate. You may look around and ask yourself WTF just happened? Yea, that was EASY! Ever blackout in a 1 hour Twitter hole? I have (shame face).
How about simply chewing your food? I’ve heard theories that its best to chew each bite around 13x to properly digest. For me, this feels impossible — I cant imagine taking this step. Well — digestion is CHALLENGING.
Creation is even more challenging.
Instead of using the energy we consume from food to go run a mile, we sit down and wait for the next meal — lunch was good, but what’s for dinner?
Rather than using the information we gather from our smartphones, we move on to the next bit of information — the next article, video, or tweet.
Consumption is easier than creation
Let’s say we do take that extra step to process the information we consume and create something new. We may then come to the false conclusion that this creation is a representation of us. However, we are NOT our creations.
Creation is a process of transformation. It is a flow of energy THROUGH us not FROM us.
We as humans are engines of transformation. Engines take one energy and convert it into something different, but engines are not the output, they are the engines.
Taking it a step further: when we attach ourselves to the objects of our creation, we may fear that they will be judged harshly and therefore WE WILL BE JUDGED HARSHLY. So our fear stems from self-identification with the objects of our creation, or attachment.
The same goes for a seemingly positive public response to our creations (which may be even more harmful in the long run). If we create, self-identify with the output, and people LOVE IT, then they love us, right? And so now our self worth is tied up with the value of our creations. Yet because the value was considered positive, we are less aware of the insidious nature of ego creep.
So anyways (this is getting long in the tooth) but the moral of the story or TL;DR is this:
HUMANS MUST CREATE
BUT WE DON’T, INSTEAD
WE PREFER TO CONSUME.WHY?
BECAUSE CONSUMPTION IS EASY
DIGESTION/PROCESSING IS HARD, AND
TRANSFORMATION/CREATION IS EVEN HARDER. ALSO,
WE SELF-IDENTIFY WITH AND ATTACH OUR WORTH TO OUR CREATIONS. THUS
WE FEAR THAT THEY WILL BE JUDGED HARSHLY, AND
ACCRUE FALSE PRIDE WHEN THEY ARE LOVED
To wrap it up with a nice little bow:
I hope this writing serves as a reminder to me and anyone reading that the solution is simple: