Creating versus consuming

 Lately, I have really been limiting my viewing of media after a certain point each night, including reading, and especially consuming content on screens. I am still doing OK with audio content but more fiction and trying to go to music more often, but I do love a good audio book. 

 Why? I have a sleep disorder and my tracking of sleep quality indicates that nights when I play video games or watch shows before I go to sleep are nights I sleep poorly. There are other factors I also manage but they are not relevant to this post. 

 So now, starting an hour before bed, I try to make rather than consume. The form this is currently taking is building out an analog Zettelkasten (ZK). Sounds so pretentious, I know. But all it is, is tree of info organized as you file into it, using index cards. 

So my routine is something like this:

  1. Begin relaxing by productive puttering - lights are turned off, dried pots and pans from dinner are put away, coffee is put on for the next morning (on a timer, I don't drink any past 9AM), dog goes out, etc. I will often head out into the yard with the dog and hang out or even sit on the deck watching the night sky and listening to a book or music.
  2. Drink lots of water - yeah, don't drink a lot of water before bed, I know. But I have an ileostomy and I use a CPAP machine, both dry you out overnight so I am fine drinking 500-750 ml of water before bed and I love it. 
  3. Sit down at my desk, read for 10 minutes - this is a paper book, usually non-fiction, and I take notes on an index card I use as a bookmark. The notes are just a page reference with a brief couple words. The intention is you revisit the book later and develop  thoughts to file into your ZK once you have had a chance to digest the info and reflect. Why 10 minutes? Seems like a good amount of time and I need to go to bed within the hour, don't forget.
  4. Finally, I get out my stack of index cards I carry around, and any in the "inbox" section of my ZK storage box, and I go through them. Some I keep for another day (either in my stack of EDC cards, or dump back in the "inbox", some I add to the ZK, and some I destroy (e.g. an event I needed to schedule, etc). I can explain this process more soon but it's still a WIP and I don't want to act like I have perfected it.
  5. The last step, after filing any cards to the ZK (a thought provoking process which I find very, very relaxing) I rewrite my TODO card for the following day, file the existing TODO card into a chronological index (not really part of my ZK, called "archive") and also, at any time, I will write "journal cards" (something I can get into in another post). These are also filed into the archive but sometimes I will put them into the inbox or my EDC stack if I think I might want to review them again and re-think about them, etc. 

I find this process of creation much more relaxing and likely to lead to a restful sleep than consuming (and I know I am reading for part of this time but that is kind of a process that stimulates ideas which I can record or build on). 

One night, doing this, I realized that our society really does not encourage this. When we are creating, it is often for "points" like a social media post or something. More often than not we don't even have spaces in our life for this act of creation. The default mode is consumption. Consumption of leisure activities, products, improvements, curated content, and vacuous entertainment (which I do love, don't get me wrong). 

Why does society encourage this? It's kind of a natural outcome of a capitalist approach. Consumption drives revenue and provides a platform for marketing. It's really that simple. There's no secret society pushing it. But, like many "invisible hand" things, it makes me wonder if this is really good for us. It makes me wonder what we are losing by not telling stories around a fire or hand crafting the things we (and our friends, family, and neighbours) need instead of watching TV all night. I have found this time of inner reflection is really increasing my sense of well being and my place in the world. I am becoming happier as a result.

 Best of all, it's helping me sleep.


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