To be called a consumer is pretty bland, just an economics term really, interchangeable with customer. But when you go back to the root of it, to consume was primarily to destroy, to use something up. To spend something wastefully. To devour. To be consumed is to be taken over by something, and usually that something is not so great and is generally out of control, like a forest being consumed by fire (and we’re not talking controlled burn here).
On the other hand, to consume can also mean simply to eat or drink—not such a bad thing. A certain hungry caterpillar consumed and consumed for quite a while–but it provided him with what he needed for a creative transformation into something even more amazing than a caterpillar (and caterpillars are pretty great to begin with).
I think about this and wonder: what am I consuming? Is it nutritious and creative? Will it feed me? Help me transform me into something better? Or am I just burning through things, using them up, swallowing them without any thought to what kind of fuel it is? Do Facebook and Twitter accounts qualify as good butterfly food?
It was a beautiful, rainy day yesterday (beautiful here, anyway, apologies to those who found themselves visited by tornadoes, those consumers of the completely destructive kind) and I found myself consumed, completely absorbed cellar-deep in Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot. Sure, it’s an ominous story (the vampires don’t sparkle), but the words are rich and compelling, and the town and its people are full of depth, love and loathing, tragedy and story and life… well, life for a time, at least. It is Stephen King, after all. But the thing I find beautiful about spending an afternoon like this is that his creation was meant for this—for being consumed, for being eaten up, devoured, relished, and, even better, it won’t be destroyed by my consumption of it. And I, in turn, have savored a delicious concoction of words and imagination and can pass on the plate, full once again and ready for someone else to enjoy.
Here’s to creating (and devouring) indestructible, wonderful things.