Consider the life of a degenerate son of a tycoon. Anything and everything that he could materially want in this world was given to him since birth. Toys, luxurious clothing, exotic foods, and even social admiration and women were purchased through money that he did not himself earn. With his father’s money he buys car after car and throws money at people’s faces to satisfy his inflated ego. Whatever he wants, he buys and consumes. His body his fat and soft, and his mind is dumb and greedy. He can buy everything but self-worth, and he tries to fill the emasculating void that he feels in his gut through more consumption – cars, drugs, whores, superficial social standing. Consumption fuels consumption and his gluttonous lifestyle leads to his early death as he drowns into an eternal pool of regret and emptiness.
Now consider the life of Michelangelo. From humble beginnings, he has cultivated his mind and body for the accomplishment of things that will leave a legacy. He knows what he wants to create and put forth into the world, something meaningful that will benefit the world and survive him. Even though he is aware of the nicer things in the world, his manly ambition pulls him much more than cushy luxury and indulgence. He finally sets his mind on the masterpiece of his life that he must produce – the Sistine Chapel. He toils, enduring physical and mental pains. All of his energies and thoughts are focused on producing this supreme work. After years of work, he finally completes it and leaves it for the world to marvel and cherish as he leaves the world with a satisfied smile on his face.
Which life would you prefer to live? The difference between these two men is extreme, but it is simple- one was dedicated to consumption, and the other to production. Consumption is easy in the moment, but it serves a difficult pill to swallow in the end and nothing else. On the other hand, production of any work is difficult and even irksome in the moment but leads to a sense of fulfillment in the long run as well as the work that was completed which will benefit both the producer and the world.
Any reasonable person would prefer a life of meaningful production over meaningless consumption. Of course, you cannot choose one at the complete exclusion of the other but anybody can choose to lean toward one or the other. A life of production also seems the more natural. It is said by biologists and evolutionists that the ultimate goal of living beings is to produce offspring and ensure the survival of its kind. Also, observation of nature let us know that a state of activity, hustle, building and production is the norm. Bees produce honey and build hives, lions and chimps build organizations, birds produce nests, et cetera. The difference between humans and animals is that human beings are given the freedom the choose between consumption and production, and if he so chooses to produce, the object of his work.
But living a life of fruitful productivity is not as easy as it may seem at first. The modern society that we live in is a massive conspiracy for consumption. We see advertisements everywhere that we go for goods and services that we ‘need’ to consume. Our culture and psychology is primed to desire consumption over production, to prefer instant gratification over longer term happiness. Consumption is made exponentially easier, and gratification is guaranteed at five dollars fifty.
However, looking just below the surface we can see that this conspiracy is one of the biggest paradoxes of the modern era. While watching a movie or consuming a fat hamburger, consumers only think of the convenience and good feels that the consumption brings. What they don’t realize is that what they are consuming is a result of someone else’s massive production. It takes 5 dollars and 1.5 hours to watch a movie but millions of dollars, hundreds of people and massive organization to produce. A burger costs 2 dollars and takes 10 minutes to eat, but McDonalds has to produce a massive global supply chain and marketing. The people ‘turning up’ to a song about chilling and smoking weed do not consider that the artist paradoxically spent hours on top of hours to produce the song. The producers of the world know how weak, vulnerable and manipulable the mindless consumers are. The producer preys on the consumers. The wolves eat the sheep.
What about you? Objectively looking at your life, is more of your time spent on consuming than producing? At the end of the day before you go to sleep, can you point to something and proudly say “This is the work that I have produced into the world this day”? This is one of the main reasons I decided to start this blog. Your work that you produce does not have to be something tangible like a painting or a building, but it can also be a service that brings value to the world. If your days are spent consuming more than you produce then your lifetime aggregate consumption will outweigh production. You took more from the world than you gave. Is this what you truly want?
There is something uniquely satisfying about being a producer that is not offered to the consumer. The mere admirer of the Sistine Chapel will never know the extent of joy and accomplishment that Michelangelo experienced looking up at his work after a decade of work. The consumer of the Big Mac will never know the adventure and joy of building a multinational organization that is recognized virtually everywhere in the world.
Become a producer, not a consumer. Walk the path of the lion, not of the sheep.