The third chapter of Ecclesiastes contains what have long been some of my mom's favorite Bible verses. She has quoted these words to me all my life, in different situations, under various circumstances.
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance..." (and so it goes...)
I thought of another set of things, and while it failed to be included in the Bible, each of these also has its own place in time (or at least in my life anyway).
A time to create, and a time to consume.
I go through phases where all I want to do is create. It feels like a well is springing up inside me, with idea after idea that wants to be brought to life. Words flow onto the page during this time much more easily. Difficult things seem more possible.
In a season of creation, I find myself making time for the creative process, and making it a priority too.
And then there is another season I often find myself in. When I just want to consume. When what I have to give creatively feels dry as a bone. And it's all I can do to simply enjoy somebody else's creation for awhile.
I used to heap lots of guilt onto myself for this. Especially as a creative type. These seasons of mass consumption can leave me feeling bad about myself, like I'm not contributing, not being productive, not tapping into my own unique whatever.
But some days are just this way. Some weeks too. Maybe even months.
A true creator understands there is a time to sit back and enjoy what you have created. And sometimes you sit back and enjoy what others have created also.
If you are in a season of creation, enjoy it. Savor every moment. Every frustrating, soul-searching, thought-provoking, mind-blowing, liberating moment.
If you have found yourself in a season of consumption, well, enjoy that too. My only advice (and don't you love to hate people who give advice) is this: Be careful what you consume.
Just like a healthy well-balanced diet needs a little junk food to keep life interesting, so does a time of consumption need things like binge-watching your favorite episodes of a cheesy reality show. But even though there's a place for it (in moderation), don't be fooled. It will never truly feed your soul.
You can't expect to have the energy and power you need to live this life if you wake up each morning and feed your body Twizzlers. And you can't expect to fuel anything deep in your soul by only feeding it things like Buzzfeed quizzes.
Read a chapter in a book that was written 100 years ago. Watch a movie in a language you don't speak. Listen to a podcast about something that challenges you. Talk to a person whose ideas are staunchly different from yours. Be open to what they have to say. Try a type of food you've previously wrinkled your nose at. Play music that you can't sing along to.
In whatever season you happen to find yourself, remember that it won't last forever. Often by the time we even realize what season we're in, it's already over. But please create. Something. Anything. The world needs all of us to be the beautiful, magical, amazing place it wants to be.
Finally, this passage which must have inspired me even though I didn't remember it til just before hitting the publish button:
"The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”― Kurt Vonnegut,