In Praise of Consumption

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about different kids of people. How some people are builders and makers, and some are fabulous consumers. Both I think are equally impressive, and I suspect that being truly, fully happy and contented will require a proficient capacity to do both. I will explain.

Consumers are those who couldn’t possibly list their very favorite place to travel to, or favorite restaurant, because there are so many! They have endless lists of things they want to do, to see, to buy, to watch, to experience. They deeply, thoroughly, and magnificently indulge and enjoy consuming good things. Food, music, art, company, events, movies, whatever. They love their things and pick them carefully. When they are consuming, they are having a really, really good time. These are not the passive, mildly numbed consumers, who consume all day long but really enjoy very little of it. They are active enjoyers of life and all of the beauty and delight it has to offer. They soak it all up. They may not appear to have many hobbies, if any at all, because they don’t need them! The world has already produced so many amazing, wonderful, delicious things for them to enjoy. And they milk the enjoyment out of it all.

Makers are builders. They are energized not by experiencing things, but by building them. By diving head first into something and figuring it out. They are avid learners and seek out learning, whether that means they teach themselves, or find others to teach them. They are energized by planning their projects and executing on them immediately. They have a long list of things they want to build, and they are always working on something. If not five things. They are not as entertained by things like travel, or sightseeing, or “experiencing” activities. What lights a fire in their soul is in the MAKING of something, and then, when it’s built, the making of something else! Perhaps they do not even fully enjoy the things they have made. They must push forward, making and making and making. If other people like what they have made, they are delighted. If other people dislike or ignore the things they have made, they may determine that they are better of just making and building and creating, and not bothering really to display any of it. They just like to build.

Are you more of a maker, or more of a consumer? Think about the question like how you think about the “introvert v extrovert” question…which is more energizing for you? Which do you enjoy more – planning and figuring out and making, or experiencing, enjoying, and consuming? Are you able to do the other, too?

I am a maker, through and through, for better or for worse. Even the things that I do enjoy consuming, I enjoy because someone else made them, and I like to figure out how they did it. I like movies of people that have figured something out, discovered something, made something of themselves. I like do-able presents… tennis gear, art supplies, gift cards to fabric stores, musical instruments! My favorite people and conversations in the world are with those, who, too, are enchanted by building and will talk my ear off about their latest ventures, whether in building multimillion dollar startups, or learning how to make little felt toy animals. So fun! This work does not tire me. I can go for days on end, furiously building away, making teeny or monumental progress, until at last my thing has been satisfactorily brought to life. Then maybe I show someone. Then I get seized by the next project, and off I go again. I can count on one hand, seriously, the number of things I have deeply, wonderfully consumed and enjoyed over the years. (coconut soup from the Burmese restaurant down the street, a museum exhibit in Quebec city that showcased couture design and construction over time, spending holidays with my family, etc) ….. I could not, however, count the endless amounts of projects I have started and finished, or started and never finished, or planned but didn’t start, or planned and then passed on to someone else, or things I have researched, or learned, or tinkered with, or been almost debilitatingly exited by. Oh, yes! And there are always more.

Have I always been like this? Since I have been married, definitely. BIG hands-in-the-air OH YEAH. In college…no, I think I was always distracted by dating my husband, which at the time was a monumental project in itself 😉 In high school? Yes! I played a dozen sports, learned all about nutrition, learned the flute, learned about interior design, learned the acoustic guitar, wrote songs, learned how to sew, learned how to knit, learned how to draw, learned French, learned about personal finance, build investment plans….even then I was always making something. Before that? I’m not sure. My childhood is one blurred memory of sunshine and running through the sprinkles and spending most of the time outside. Even then, though, I do recall building leprechaun traps in the basement and fairy houses in the garden. I knocked a little toenail off with a shovel once, making huts in that garden.

That being said, I have always admired people that are just really, really good at enjoying themselves. I have never been so good at that. So many of these girls and guys I know and love are just…good at living. They enjoy all the little bits, having people come stay with them, traveling, going out to dinner, sightseeing, you know. They seem to just be contented and happy with life, while I have to fight to feel like all of those things are not a terrible waste of time (with the exception of spending time with my own family, who I could never see enough of).

Of course, there are happy and successful people all along the spectrum, and I don’t think one is any better than the other. Personally, I think I need to be a better consumer. To better enjoy everything this amazing world has to offer. But even if I manage to fully consume and enjoy something, I know that afterwards I’ll rush home, and get right back to working on my latest project.

I like to make stuff. That’s just me. What about you?

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Interesting concept. I think I am some of both. I am a consumer of information. I know a little about a lot of things. I dig into new things, ie. nutrition, health, energy healing and am always reading something– but I never remember the details. I enjoy taking classes. On the other hand, I am an idea person. Grandpa Louie says jokingly (I think– haha) that his least favorite words to hear from me are “I have been thinking”. I am the one who comes up with all our new projects, but because of skill level he does most of the work. Meanwhile I am out shopping (consuming) for all the things we need to turn it into my initial vision. These things often require some effort on my part–repainting, etc. (maker).

    • Hah that sounds just like me!! Keeping up with all of the ideas and executing on all of them is the hard part! Louie is a pro at helping you create your vision :))