I feel like I’ve been blind all of my life, and only now am I beginning to see the light. It’s a miracle. The light that I am beginning to see, is the truth of how many hundreds of hours I wasted going off to malls, online and offline, and wasting so many precious seconds on consumerism.
“Oh, I’m not going to buy anything. I’m not spending money. I’m just going to do some window shopping.” So much precious time was wasted on nothing. On buying items that I didn’t really need. Then, returning those said items, because I just didn’t have the space or the money for them. From there, going on and repeating the cycle, a hundred thousand times.
Every single day, every single week, every single month. It was all the same. My life was about shopping. It was about consumerism. The point of my life wasn’t to live, but to buy or pretend to buy or window shop or browse. All of it was the same.
Why Did I Shop So Much?
My obsession was all related to shame. So much shame pervaded my soul. The main reason was that I have a writer soul. I am a writer. There is nothing else that runs in my blood and veins – but stories. More and more stories. All of the stories. They are always there, pervading my mind, body, and soul.
You know how I can stay silent and alone for hours and days on end. I have my stories to keep me company. I don’t need anything or anyone else.
But what I decided was that I couldn’t write. I don’t really know how it came about.
But it had something to do with two things:
- My parents told me that I was a mediocre writer. But not anyone who would make their mark on this world. I had no reason to doubt their feedback. Why would I doubt it? Why would I think they had any hidden agenda? So I believed, naively and stupidly. I believed that I didn’t know to write and I shouldn’t become a writer. Damn that belief!
- My English teacher in high school almost failed me in English. I don’t know what happened there. I was in the top of the class one year and the next, I was in the bottom. Confused, I thought it must be my writing skills. It’s weird how I attached my failing a random English class to my entire future writing career. Again, so damn futile!
Thus, I shopped to numb my soul and help me forget. Forget that I am writer. Forget that I need to write. I need to write like I need to breathe. I could do without the eating bit, or the water bit, or the family bit, but I cannot do without the writing bit of my life.
But when I stopped writing, because I was told I am not a writer, I decided to consume my time and my soul with shopping. There is creativity in shopping, to be sure. But not the kind of creativity my soul needed to be whole.
I Adore The English Language
I have always loved the English language. I dream and think in the English language, even though it was my second language. I have always loved it, and I have always wanted to write in it. I write thousands of words nowadays, but back then, whenever I wrote anything, it got pummelled by my parents, and my English teacher.
The only people who liked my writing was my siblings and the little children who heard my stories in a weekly story circle. They would all sit down around me. I would be the wizened old grandmother, and I would tell them stories. Unrehearsed stories that bubbled up out of my vivid imagination. I would speak for minutes on end. Hours sometimes.
They would oooh and aaah at my stories. I would wonder, “Perhaps all of those people are wrong. Maybe I’m supposed to be a writer.”
But then I would go back to school and my English teacher would scorn my writing. I would know then, that those children didn’t know anything. I was nothing.
If only I had had the understanding that children know better than any adults. But I was a child myself back then. Oh well!
I Was So Afraid To Write
I said earlier, that I have this incessant desire to write. It isn’t a need. It is an obsession. It is as important to me as breathing, or eating. I can go a day without food. But I cannot go a day without writing.
Saying that, I wasted hundreds of thousands hours that I could have been writing, not writing.
Because I was afraid to create. Afraid to free up that shopping time to see that all that would be left is an eternity of moments, where I would have to sit down and work on my writing projects. There would be nothing else to do.
At that point, I would have to buckle down and focus and that’s exactly what I didn’t want to do. Until, I didn’t do the work, I could critic other writers, and say, Oh, I could write better than drivel that he or she has produced. But when I actually start writing, I realize that my drivel is the same as their drivel. It’s all drivel, but it’s all also good. Because the point of creativity isn’t to create bestsellers or masterpieces, but to create.
That’s all – just create, just create, just create. Forget about everything else. Please.
I beg of you.
We Forget That Time Matters More Than Money
All of those moments that I wasted consuming or window-shopping are all gone. I could have written a hundred stories or novels or whatever in those moments.
Instead, I have nothing to show for it. Oh well, but at least you didn’t spend money, I would tell myself.
I forgot for the longest time, being young, and oh-so-stupid, that I wasted something so much more precious than money. Money can be re-earned a hundred times over. And in the end, we will never take our money with us anywhere.
But time. Oh, time. Time never comes back. Ever. What we have given up to the Lords of Consumerism (shopping malls, and conglomerates) are all gone forever. They will never ever be returned to me.
Never. So even if I didn’t spend any money, that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. My time, that time that I could have spent writing is all gone. All disappeared. Never to come back again.
Why Do I Write Thousands Of Words Every Day?
People lament to me, “But Shikha, you write too fast. Maybe you should slow down and write less, but more quality.”
I want to spit in their face. But because I am a lady (in my head), I don’t. The truth is that I have already wasted hundreds of thousands of hours of writing. They are all gone. I have lived half my life already, not writing. I have wasted half of my life already not writing.
That time will never come back.
But these moments that I have right now. These moments are mine. I have them. And I am going to use them, I’m going to use them to write as much as I can. As much as I freaking humanly can.
Sometimes, I am typing at a 100 words per minute, and after a couple of hours of that, my fingers hurt. They are swollen, and curled up. They need a rest. So I rest.
But even that rest is a waste of time to me. I should be writing, I think to myself.
Every moment counts. I don’t know how many years I have left. I don’t know when I’ll die. But I do know that every single second as much as possible from now until I die, will be spent writing.
Think Of How Many Minutes Would Be Freed Up If You Quit Consumerism
Do this exercise right now. Sit down and write out all of the time in this past week that you spent online or offline, shopping in all of its various forms. It doesn’t matter if you bought anything or not. How much time did you spent entangled in the web of consumerism?
It is deadly this web. It is so enticing, because there’s so much stuff out there to buy. And we work so hard, so we should be able to reward ourselves, shouldn’t we?
This cycle of rewarding ourselves, for working so hard, so we can buy more stuff, so we have to make more money, so we have to reward ourselves, is deadly.
The minute we break this cycle of consumerism-reward-work, and start working on our creative projects, we will be able to get beyond consumerism. All of a sudden, the hold that consumerism has on will become tenuous at best. It will start becoming weaker and weaker, until the point where we just won’t have time for consumeristic activities.
Creative People Are Too Busy Creating To Consume – Reduce Consumerism, Create Lots
When I say creating, I mean creating. I don’t mean buying all of the materials to create, like knitting needles, or a kiln, and then, leaving it to collect dust for weeks.
Move all of that time that you would spend on consumerism to doing creative stuff. It doesn’t matter what kind of creative stuff. It really doesn’t matter what kind. You could spend it on creating little dolls out of plastic, or you could spend it on making baby goat clothing. I don’t give the rat’s ass. And neither does your soul.
All it wants to do is create.
What will happen is that you will get into this mode of creating so much so that all of your days and nights will be occupied with creating, whatever your chosen vocation might be. And then, all of your time, all of your precious time, is for creating. You will literally have no time available to consume.
I am so busy writing, and writing, and writing some more, that I barely have time to go get my eyebrows waxed. I might be un-groomed, but I am so ecstatic to be alive, that it doesn’t matter.
Consumerism Becomes Not A Means To An End, But More Conscious
For people busy with creative projects, consumerism is a way to stay alive. So they go buy food because they need to eat. They buy stuff for the house because they need lights, and soap, and stuff.
But they aren’t consumed with consumerism. They aren’t spending all of their free time on it, also because they have no free time. All of their free time is devoted to creativity in some form or another.
When they do go out for a shopping day, they are doing it so that they can stock up. The less time they have to spend going outside and consuming, the more time they will have to create.
The less stuff I can do with, the less stuff I have to take care of, the less money I need to earn, and the more time I can spend on writing. It all always comes down to writing for me. Is something interrupting my writing? Then, it must be eliminated out of my day. If not, then it can stay.
I said this earlier – I have a limited time left on this planet. I don’t know how much exactly. But I know that I want to spend the majority of it exclusively on writing. Breathing, pooping, grooming, eating, drinking, and all of that is secondary. All of it doesn’t matter as much as writing.
Unhealthy? Perhaps. But necessary to the survival of my soul.