A motley crew of Wacoans has formed a group around the idea that we should be producers and not just consumers. Many of us have read Shannon Haye’s book Radical Homemakers which inspired the formation of the group and our name. At our last meeting, after getting a lesson on making kombucha, we had an interesting discussion about what it means to us to be producers and not just consumers.
As I’ve shared before, I struggle with perfectionism. This means I have a hard time not being productive. Boredom and lack of purpose drive me crazy. So, since letting go of my small business, Edible Lawns, and my dream of the perfect job in which I change the world, become famous and magically find balance and happiness, I have struggled with finding purpose and feeling productive.
This is good, because being productive and being a producer are not the same thing. I’m not sure I fully understand the difference yet. What I know for sure is that one is life-giving and one is not. My drive for perfection and to be productive usually leaves me feeling inadequate and guilty. These are not healthy motivators.
Being productive is what my job expects from me and includes efficiency for its own sake, busy work, pretending to be busy, not thinking about the bigger picture or larger goals of an organization or business and making (up) numbers that look good. The idea that I have to be productive means that I am not good enough in and of myself as a created being. I need to earn my existence, my value and my worth.
So, for me this means that I feel guilty about not writing more on this blog. In order to assuage my guilt I post links to things that other, more productive, people have written that I wish I wrote to Facebook and Twitter. It’s a poor substitute. It’s the process of writing, thinking through something, engaging the topic, issues and questions and having something to say that are meaningful to me, not just putting something out there to say that I did it, to keep up traffic to my site, to keep my name out there, etc.
And that’s the difference between just being productive and being a producer. Being productive comes out of a place of guilt, obligation, duty and selfishness. Being a producer comes out of a life that is being lived and participating in the act of creation in a way that produces more life for oneself and for others. I have felt guilty about not writing more, about not filling the void with more productivity, but at the same time I have not been motivated to write or do things for the sake of feeling productive.
I hope to write more. I hope to think through God, The Economist and other things I’ve been reading. I hope to plant my garden this fall, but not out of obligation or duty. I want to do these things because they contribute to the world and my own life in meaningful ways.
Because they give me joy.
Because I have a hard time not doing them.
Because that’s what I want to do with my day off.
Because that’s what I want to do when I’m bored and there’s nothing else to do.
There are enough things in life that we do because they have to get done. Washing dishes. Cleaning. Changing diapers. There’s no reason to add more things to that list, especially when they drag us down or leave us with guilt and shame.
Jesus certainly didn’t heal people, free people or even challenge the authorities, because it was an obligation he felt as the Son of God. There was Life coursing through his veins that made it impossible NOT to do those things. He was the ultimate life-giver, because he was so full of life. It overflowed to the people, community, systems, social structures and world around him. May that same life overflow in me to produce more life, beauty and truth in the people and places around me. Amen.
Though have never struggled with perfectionism, I , too , struggle with being productive. I am very goal driven and so if I dont have something I am aiming for, I often feel lost and lazy, and then guilty and frustrated. But I really like this idea of being a producer. I hope you share more on this subject as you learn more. Great post.
Thanks Jes. I hope to spend more time writing on this topic and others. I’ve enjoyed keeping up with you guys in S. Korea. Thanks for reading.