Project Wake Up

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Write Now

The past two weeks have been ground-breaking!  During that period of time I have written over 35,000 words for my book Panama (or whatever I end up calling it), doubling my total after it sat languishing for all last year.  What prompted this meteoric rise to action?  Well, it began with something as simple as waking up early.  I had downloaded the book Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy via Overdrive as I was browsing available nonfiction ebooks from my library. 

By the way, if you do not know what Overdrive is and you read ebooks or listen to audiobooks, you are missing out!  It is a free service that allows you to download these books through your local library.

In his book, Brian Tracy recommended taking your highest priority task and working on it first thing each morning.  He says that by knocking it out right away, or at least some of it, you gain a momentum and added ability that can push you through the fears and doubts that hold you back.  And incredibly, it worked!  Two weeks ago I was attending a week-long military training course that began at 7:30 AM.  I took me about 50 minutes just to drive there, so I needed to leave by 6:30 to get there each morning with a little time to spare. 

I decided to try out Tracy's advice and began waking up at 4:30 each morning and spending at least one hour and fifteen minutes writing my book before I left to go to my class.  The first few days I wrote between 500 and 1500 words.  What did not happen was that I sat down and felt the words flow from me like music from Stevie Wonder.  At least, not at first.  On Friday, after waking up at that horrific time of day each morning and sticking with it all week, our class ended early.  By noon I was heading home, nothing specific planned, just enjoying the prospect of some unstructured free time.  Then I realized that I could actually use that time to do something meaningful like work on my book.

So I went to the library instead, parked in a study cubicle such as I had not seen since my days in college, and began to type on my laptop.  Four hours later a librarian was announcing that the library was closing, and I realized that I had been writing the entire time.  I went back on Saturday and wrote 5,000 words worth of quality material, far more than I had ever written at one sitting. 

Last week I went to the library whenever time permitted, one day writing as much as 7,000 words.  I feel like a surfer who, after paddling around all day, suddenly finds himself on top of the big one, holding his breath and trying to ride the wave for as long as it will take him.  After years of idly wishing that I could write, I feel like I woke up one morning (very early) and discovered that I can.  I plan on finishing the first draft of my book this upcoming weekend.  And if I had to point to one factor that got me moving after years of inactivity, as trite as it may seem, I would have to say that it was 4:30 AM that did it for me.  Not that there is anything magical about the time, or even necessarily about early morning; rather, it was the commitment to make this an absolute priority in my life, and being willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it. 

So, if  you're like most people and there is some inner wish that has churned uncomfortably within you for years, maybe you should just try waking up earlier.  It worked for me!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Christmas Carol

Years ago I heard a man, who I very much respect and admire, mention that he reads three pieces of literature every year during the Christmas season.  One of those was A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.  I have since made this part of my personal Christmas traditions, and my appreciation of the season has been greatly enriched for these simple efforts!  I have listed below some of my favorite quotes and passages from the book:

"...for it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself."  This quote comes as the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge the festivities of his nephew and his friends, who lose themselves as young children in their games.  How deftly Dickens uses the scene to call to our remembrance the Savior and the true meaning of Christmas!  It may be that this passage struck me ever more strongly because as I read it, several of my children played loudly and cheerfully at my feet. 

"'Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,'" said Scrooge.  'But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.'"  In this statement, Scrooge addresses the stoic Ghost of Christmas Future hopefully.  He has seen where his present course will lead if he does not make a radical course change.  By now, he has purposed in his heart to make such a departure.  I may be reading too much into the dialogue here, but I hear Scrooge's voice trembling as he speaks these words.  The idea of true, lasting change is a daunting one, and requires bravery - which Scrooge demonstrates in the next quote. 

"It sent a pang across his heart to think how this old gentleman would look upon him when they met; but he knew what path lay straight before him, and he took it."  Toward the end of the book, Scrooge sees a man who visited his office earlier soliciting charitable donations.  Scrooge coldly turned him out, disparaging the entire endeavor.  At this moment, Scrooge has decided to cast off the miserly, uncaring man.  Here he opportunity presented a chance to repair a past mistake.  But, recalling his past behavior, he feared how the man would react upon seeing him.  The reader rejoices, however, as he proceeds in spite of that fear and bravely steps down the new path he is determined to follow.

This wonderful book contains many other uplifting quotes and passages, and it's too short to justify any excuse for not reading it! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Play: The Shepherd Who Stayed Behind

The Shepherd Who Stayed Behind
Christmas 2014
Shawn Callihan 

Note - this is a draft of a Christmas play I wrote for our children to perform for family on Christmas Eve.  I thought it would be fun to post it here.

Narrator:  Three men, David, his son Nathan, and another shepherd sit around a fire – three candles – in a dark room] “One evening in the fields near Bethlehem, a group of men sat around a small fire, warming their hands from the cool night air.  Behind them is a small cabin.  These men were shepherds.  They had spent many long nights caring for the sheep, guarding them from danger and providing for all their needs.”

“Among them was a young man named Nathan.  Nathan had been tending the sheep with his father David for several years as an apprentice.

David:  [picks up a candle, stands, and yawns]  “We have had a good day.  I think it’s time to rest.  Good evening.”

Shepherd:  “Good night David."

David:  [stops and embraces Nathan]  “Good night my son.  Remember what you have been taught tonight.”  [enters cabin to sleep, exits room and extinguishes his candle.  The other shepherd follows, taking another candle from the fire.  Nathan takes the last candle and walks among the sheep with it.

Narrator:  “Though he had spent several years tending sheep, this would be his first time keeping the night watch alone while the others slept.  It meant they trusted him.  All alone, the world lay silent and still before him.  The only sounds that could be heard were a  soft breeze rustling through the shrubs, and the occasional bleating of a sheep.  [Sheep bleat]  Unbeknownst to Nathan and his fellow shepherds, on that silent night in nearby Bethlehem, Mary would soon give birth to the prophesied messiah, the savior of the world.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:7).

Chorus:  Silent Night (Verse 1)
Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace;
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Narrator:  “Nathan walked among his flock of sheep.  Truly alone for the first time, he stared into the clear sky.  He had spent countless hours on evening watches with the other shepherds looking at the stars.  They were familiar companions during long nights in the field.  Then a strange thing happened.  A new light appeared above him, clear and bright!  He had never seen anything like it.  The star had appeared suddenly, but looked as though it had always belonged there.   His father had taught Nathan to wake the others whenever anything unusual happened, and so he ran to the cabin and roused them.  They emerged in confusion and beheld the new star.  They had little time to ponder its meaning, however, for as the gathered shepherds looked in wonder another light appeared, closer and much brighter.” 

[angel appears with a bright candle]

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them…”

Angel:  “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

Narrator:  [turn on lights in the room] “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  (Luke 2:9-14)

Chorus:  Silent Night (Verse 2)

Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar;
Heav'nly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Savior, is born!
Christ, the Savior, is born!

[angels disappear, lights go out except for Nathan’s, and the shepherds discuss this wondrous news]

Shepherd:   “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”  [David and Nathan nod in agreement]

David:  [addresses his son Nathan] Our duty is with the sheep.  If you would rather go with the others, I will take your place and keep the rest of tonight’s watch.”

Nathan:  [standing tall] “No father, I have the watch.  You go and see the Messiah, and I will stay with the sheep.”  [They hug, and David departs with the other shepherds]

Narrator:  “It was a hard choice for Nathan.  He watched as his father left with the others.  Alone once more, he recalled the angels and their message of peace and hope.   How Nathan wished he could be there with his father and look on the face of the Christ child!  But this, he knew, was a selfish thought.  His duty was here, tending the sheep.  He had seen and heard the heavenly messengers, surely a far greater witness than a lowly shepherd boy had any right to receive.  Heart full of gratitude, Nathan knelt down and thanked God.”  [Nathan kneels to pray]

“As he finished praying, he thought of his fellow shepherds, who perhaps at that very moment were also kneeling before the baby Jesus.  Again he yearned to be with them.  [Nathan stands and begins checking the sheep again.] 

“The silence of the night seemed all the quieter after being filled so recently with angelic voices praising the Lord.  As he checked the sheep once more, Nathan’s mind turned to a scripture written by Isaiah.  Like most of the young men his age, Nathan grew up learning and memorizing the writings of the ancient prophets, and he often pondered them in the silence of the fields.”

Nathan:  “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me… I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no savior (Isaiah 43:10-11).”

Narrator:  “The angel proclaimed that the Christ child was a savior.  That truth now filled his entire soul with light and knowledge.  And then he felt a voice, quiet but clear, repeating the opening words from the verses in Isaiah – ‘Ye are my witnesses…’”

[David and the other shepherds return to the field, speaking excitedly to Nathan]

“As night departed and became day, Nathan’s father and the rest of the ‘… shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them (Luke 2:20).’”

[Nathan, David, the Shepherd, and the Sheep depart together]

“As the days passed, those shepherds traveled throughout Judea as ‘…they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds (Luke 2:17-18).’  Although Nathan never saw the child with his own eyes, his witness was no less powerful than his fellow shepherds, for amid the silence of that first Christmas night long ago, after the heavenly messengers departed, he had received his own witness from the still, small whisperings of the spirit.” 

Chorus:  Silent Night (Verse 3)

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth;
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sabbath Musings: But if not...

Today in Sunday school our teacher taught from the book of Daniel in the Old Testament.  Daniel is a short book whose its content can be categorized into two main themes: the miraculous experiences of the captive Hebrew who remained true to their faith in spite of their secular surroundings, and Daniel's prophetic visions and interpretation of dreams.

In the first chapter, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (we'll call them S-M-A for short)refuse the royal fare which likely violated the Law of Moses restrictions on food.  Confident that the Lord will support them in their obedience, Daniel suggests to their master (the prince of eunuchs) that the four boys subsist on grains and water for 10 days.  After which time, he continues, the prince of eunuchs should compare their countenances with the other youth.  Their master agreed, and after ten days "...their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat (Daniel 1:15)."

Chapter six displays the extent of Daniel's faith when he continues to pray to God in spite of King Darius' decree outlawing prayer to any deity other than the king.  As he is being cast into a den of lions (the prescribed punishment), the king calls out to Daniel the following:  "Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee (Daniel 6:16)."  How amazing to hear this confidence expressed by the Median king!  Everyone remembers how this familiar Bible story ends, so I'll move on to the third story from Daniel (a bit out of order, but this is the one I wanted to discuss).  But first, notice that in both experiences the Hebrews were blessed by God for their obedience in very tangible, immediate ways.  More on this in a moment...

In Daniel chapter three, S-M-A refuse to worship an enormous golden idol as commanded by King Nebuchadnezzar.  Before receiving their punishment of being thrown into a furnace so hot that it slew the men who carried them, S-M-A proclaim,

"If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up (Daniel 3:17-18, italics added)."

Moments later, the king can just make out the three men in the furnace.  Amazingly, S-M-A appear untouched by the flames, and a fourth being can be seen accompanying them.  When they emerge unscathed, the king retracts his decree and promote the men to higher positions of authority.  Like the other experiences, the Lord blesses them for their bold obedience. 

The words of S-M-A really struck me as I read them.  "But if not..."  Notwithstanding their faith, they recognized that their deliverance from the fire was no sure thing.  It's very easy to gloss over that crucial clause and focus solely on the miraculous denouement.  In fact, the theme of Daniel (setting aside the prophetic visions and dreams), certainly seems to be that Heavenly Father blesses and protects his obedient children. 

But does he always?  I say yes, but conditionally, for these blessings do not always arrive in the immediate or dramatic fashion that we read of in Daniel.  In fact, sometimes things just turn out plain bad for the obedient in this life.  John the Baptist's head ends up on a charger to satisfy King Herod's daughter, Abinadi suffered death by fire (he, unlike S-M-A, was not protected by the flames) after delivering his testimony, a mob killed Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum at a lonely jail in Illinois. 

Think for a moment and you can probably come up with some examples a little closer-to-home.  I think of a faithful tithe-payer who lost his job and struggles through months of unemployment.  Also a family whose healthy, beautiful daughter tragically died while asleep in her crib.  Or a righteous young wife and mother who suffered grotesque disfigurement and permanent injury from a plane crash. 

As I recalled these examples, I began to think that the message from Daniel was a little unfair and one-sided.  Sometimes trials are faithfully met, but promised blessings or divine protection seemingly withheld.  We can choose to obey the commandments for a variety of reasons, including a hope of promised blessings, a sense of duty, and love for God.  Someone who obeys primarily out of hope of promised blessings, however, may find his or her testimony wavering when they do not see results akin to Daniel in their own lives.  After thinking along these lines for a while, I recalled that phrase from S-M-A:

But if not! 

Their obedience was never contingent on miraculous deliverance from the furnace.  They chose to obey regardless of the earthly consequences, because their faith went beyond the arrival of earthly blessings.  Certainly they hoped for deliverance, but they trusted in God's promise to the faithful that "all things shall work together for your good (D&C 105:40)," whether in this life or in the life to come.  When placed in faith-trying situations, we would do well to remember the lesson of S-M-A.  How grateful we can be when protected from the flames and when the lions' mouths are shut!  But how will we respond if we begin to feel the heat of the flames?  May we be steadfast and immovable and, like S-M-A, boldly proclaim, But if not!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Do you believe?

Tonight our older three children and I watched the 1994 Tim Allen movie Santa Claus

(Side note:  The movie was showing on TV, the ABC Family channel.  We are renting a beach house for a few months, and cable is included.  As we have not subscribed to cable or satellite TV over the past 10 years, our children's experience with movies consists mostly of DVDs, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.  There were actually very few commercials played, but each time they interrupted the movie the children acted so genuinely surprised, and then quite put out.  By the time I was their age, I had probably spent as much or more time watching commercials than they have watching movies!)

The movie focuses on a not uncommon topic for Christmas movies, namely the existence of Santa Claus.  All adults and some children disbelieve initially, including Tim Allen, who is thrust into the role of believer after Santa falls off his roof one Christmas Eve.  My children (who loved the movie) are 10, 8, and 7-years-old.  I watched them watching the movie, wondering what they thought of Santa Claus.  Do they believe?  I almost asked them as I tucked them into bed, but hesitated and decided not too.

I don't remember exactly when I stopped believing in Santa.  One Christmas Eve of my youth I stared up into the clear night sky outside my grandparents' home in Myrtle Beach, straining for a glimpse of Santa's sleigh.  I had absolutely no doubt that if I was fortunate enough to look in the right place at the right time, I would see him zipping through the sky like some holiday shooting star. 

Eventually, doubt crept into my heart as evidence to the contrary began to accumulate.  For a while I avoided thinking too hard on the subject, as if I knew that the illusion wouldn't stand deep scrutiny (even from a 7 or 8-year-old).  Around my parents, other grown-up relatives, and younger children, I continued to play the role of sincere believer during these years whenever someone else brought up the topic.  I, however, did everything I could to steer conversation away from it.  This deception made me feel uncomfortable. 

What caused these feelings, and why did I feel compelled to maintain the appearance of true believer in spite of my inner doubts?  I think part of it was a desire not to disappoint my family.  I recognized that, while not overly zealous in pushing belief in Santa, my parents and grandparents went to some effort to maintain the illusion in our home.  I also don't think I wanted to infect other children with my personal doubts.  Even at that age, I recognized that a mistaken belief in Santa Claus probably caused no harm, and I certainly didn't want to be responsible for crushing this belief in anyone. 

Aside from these social concerns, I think something even profounder prompted my contradictory behavior during this period.  Deep down, I hoped to be proven wrong.  I accepted the logic of my doubts mentally, but I clung to a spark of hope that magic of the type Santa Claus represented really existed.  Though everything around me pointed to the reality of Santa as extremely unlikely, I kept a door inside me open to the possibility for a few years.  I suspect my children are in this stage of their childhood right now.  I think it's such a sacred and fragile time, and that is why I hesitate to bring up the subject with them.  In fact, I still feel that same reluctance to close the door on another's belief, even if mine has been shut closed for nearly three decades.  After all, as impossible as the magic of Christmas may seem, just the possibility of such magic is a special thing all by itself. 

Perhaps some of my children no longer believe.  Our three-year-old daughter will believe anything we (her parents) tell her with simple, unquestioning faith.  The older children likely suspect, or perhaps even know the truth.  In any case, I think I will avoid putting them in the awkward situation of having to profess their belief (or disbelief).  And in the meantime, I hope that they at least still hope that the magic of Christmas is real, as this the possibility may be all that truly separates childhood from adolescence and adulthood.

Creation, as inspired by Mexico and Neil Gaiman

The children are asleep.  I sit in a comfortable house a stone's throw from the ocean after finishing a short Neil Gaiman novel called The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  On any given day if you asked me what I would most like to be doing and where I would like to be doing it, my answer would probably center around reading a good book at the beach.  It's been nearly three weeks since I last had to work, and I still have over three more weeks of leave before life resumes normality.  I'm growing a beard.  This morning I woke up just in time for a lazy jog on the beach as the sun rose. 

A few months ago I ached for this experience, and yet here I am and how do I feel?  Restless and discontent.  Nothing so strong as despair or depression, mind you, rather just a quiet impression in the background that things could be better. 

In Gaiman's fanciful novel, the seven-year-old main character encounters powerful beings that live down the lane from his family's country home in England.  First as an unwitting participant, and then mostly as a spectator, his life becomes briefly entwined with theirs and the thin veil of reality is peeled back to expose a world much larger and stranger than rural England.  As the novel concludes, however, the otherworldly crisis is resolved and he returns to his life, forgetting entirely those few days of wonder and grandiosity.  This left me pondering whether those few days changed him, or whether the absence of memory means they may as well have never even occurred.  One would hope for the former, but sad experience suggests the latter may be closer to the truth.  How often I have complacently discarded life's lessons by the wayside, unremembered as the now and later stole all attention from what had been. 

In fact, this thought reminded me of an evening in Mexico City less than a year and a half ago.  I was in the middle of a three month assignment in that country which provided me with generous amounts of free time to explore the country and spend as I wished.  Although apart from my family, we communicated frequently and my wife was even able to visit for six days and celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary.  By all outward appearances, life had given me all that I asked of it.  And yet, echoes of those same feelings of restlessness and discontent tugged at the edge of consciousness. 

I believe that restlessness has its roots at least in childhood, or perhaps even before that, to times disremembered by us all.  Do these moments that I had worked so hard to craft for my own pleasure reflect my true desires?  Or are they things settled for, mere compromises of the deeper longings within? 

As a child I dreamed big.  I loved to read, and I knew that one day I would write books that other people loved to read.  The books I read told stories of exceptional people living above the everyday, mundane existences I saw in the lives of those adults around me.  Most of the adults always seemed a bit sad to me.  As I child I never dwelt on this too much, but as a mid-thirties adult I think I misrecognized sadness as resignation.  Or perhaps I am incorrectly assuming that my own feelings and experience are universal.  If so, don't judge too harshly, and brush off my egotism as naïveté. 

In fact, none of this is about anyone other than me, but I still feel compelled to write about it.  What occurred to me that night in Mexico, and reoccurs tonight by the beach, is that I have strayed from what I intuitively knew as a child.  That principle is that true happiness is only found in creation.  None of the creations of my youth would have seemed very impressive to an outside observer.  A friend and I converted two rooms and a hallway of my parents' home into a haunted house for our friends to tour; another friend and I collaborated over the phone for hours, designing the perfect video game in excruciating detail that we hoped to one day bring to life; me, alone in my bedroom, putting my meager artistic abilities to work for several days as I reproduced the cover of a favorite comic book with colored pencils.  I choose these three seemingly random memories because, in spite of how insignificant their initial appearance, to me they are each quite important because of the satisfaction they provided (in fact, still provide, though it is only the memory of contentedness). 

Creation doesn't have to be one hundred percent original.  All it has to be is uniquely yours, something that no one else can lay claim to.  Sure, the comic cover I laboriously copied was conceived and created by a much more talented artist.  And yet, somehow that didn't diminish my experience of recreating the cover as my own (vastly inferior) artwork.  Do we discount the creativity of the pianist simply because the work he played was composed by someone else?

Creation doesn't even have to be physical - in fact, I believe that intellectual and spiritual creations will outlast all others.  The video game my friend and I developed never became anything more than a very elaborate, imagined plan.  But for our purposes, imagination satisfied our childhood needs, and there was never a serious purpose on our part of turning it into a physical creation.  That didn't make it any less real, however, and it helped strengthen an invaluable friendship that helped a couple of teenage boys survive the trials of adolescence. 

Indeed, this reminds me that the greatest creation of my life is the loving relationship between my wife and I.  Though intangible, this has led to the quite tangible creation of six children, each unique and beloved individually by us.  They provide my life with its greatest meaning.  In the most treasured moments of my adult life, I lose myself in the joy of living with them and loving them. 

While creation provides me with true fulfilment, I have found its opposite to be far more common in my life - consuming.  The latter is more frequent and much easier in today's world.  The next post was mostly written as an email to my wife that night in Mexico City, and shares some of my thoughts on creating versus consuming. 

Create vs Consume


Consumers use things created by others.  For example, nearly all of the food we consume has been grown and processed by someone else.  Created by someone else, for our consumption.  They created it, we paid money for it.  That of course is how our modern economy works.  In the past, some economists got very excited when their theories showed that mankind would become more productive creators of consumer goods such as food, clothing, shelter, books, etc.  They rightly predicted that this would result in much more free time for the middle and upper classes, time which could be devoted to innovation and invention.  Indeed, this is exactly what happened.  First came the Industrial Revolution, which gave us everything from paperback books to electricity to jet planes.  Great scientists revolutionized their fields and created new ones such as genetics, quantum physics, nanotechnology, forensics, robotics, and others.  Starting in the 60s and really taking off in the 80s and 90s we had the computing revolution, which ultimately created personal desktop computers, laptops, video game systems, MP3 Players , tablets, etc.  Initially, computers existed solely for improving efficiency.  Complex mathematics calculations solved instantly.  Databases were created so that bankers, doctors, and government agencies could more efficiently compile data and analyze information.  Paper files were shredded by the tons as offices improved their efficiency.  Computers continue to make us more efficient, but their primary purpose now is to facilitate consumption.  Computers have become the primary hub for consumption in a variety of forms that includes movies and sitcoms, music, shopping, gambling, immorality, socializing, sports, and even education (distinguished here as pursuing a credential vice truly learning... not that the two have to be mutually exclusive, and I have no doubt that some of it leads to the creation of knowledge and wisdom, I'm just skeptical that very much of it does). 
Today, from a very young age most children learn to spend most of their time engaged in consuming.  Obviously this happens via computers, televisions, and video games.  Much more subtly, they are also raised in an environment where everything they need is magically provided.  Food in all sorts of plastic wrapped and preserved varieties available whenever and however they want it.  Once upon a time, children watched their parents and siblings tend gardens and livestock until they were old enough to help. There was a time when children had to use their imaginations to entertain themselves.  You can see this natural tendency in young children, who still will spend hours playing in the sandbox making creations.  As they get older, however, our society teaches them that they can check their imaginations - modern media will supply all of their entertainment needs.  By the time you become an adult, you have learned that money really is the key to satisfying all wants and needs.  When your great grandmother needed a dress, your great-great-grandmother probably made her one.  When your grandmother wanted a bird feeder, your grandfather probably built one.  Then, if it was my grandmother, she would have painted it in pretty pastel colors.  Hardly anyone creates things like that anymore because they've been taught from childhood that money is the solution to everything, and that if you need or want something you find the store that sells it and you buy it. 
People have also shifted from creating to consuming in their occupations.  Over the past couple of centuries, jobs that earn money through the creation of services rather than physical goods have become more common.  Today, very few people in the U.S. actually create things.  The farmers, carpenters, writers, and artists are much rarer than the accountants, lawyers, waiters, teachers, etc.  There's nothing inherently wrong with working in a profession where your creation is a service instead of something more tangible.  But the farmer has crops, the carpenter furniture, the writer books, the artist paintings.  Although they may borrow ideas from others in their work, these types of workers create at a much higher level than they consume.  In comparison, most people who work in the service industry have a much lower ratio of creating to consuming.  They sit at desks, working on computers with software created by someone else, often using word processing or spreadsheet templates also created by someone else.  These workers typically work a set number of hours a day, many of which are occupied by non-work related activity on the Internet, email, and social media.  Because they get regular paychecks, they would likely argue that they are, in actuality, creators.  But I think for many of us, when we honestly examine what our hours at work really accomplish, we would admit that a very small percentage of our time is spent in true creative pursuits.  Personally, I would estimate my ratio at work hovers somewhere around 5% creating to 95 % consuming.
Returning to the spiritual, we don't know much about Jesus' life on earth outside of the last three years.  We know he was a carpenter by occupation.  He know he went about serving, teaching, and loving others.  His greatest achievement was the Atonement, which enabled all mankind to overcome physical and spiritual death.   I would argue that he spent his entire life creating.  My ballpark estimation of his ratio was probably closer to 80% creating, 20% consuming (because not all consuming is bad... there was a time for letting Mary annoint his feet, for eating food prepared by others, etc.).  It may not be immediately apparent that he spent so much time in creation, but that's because it was primarily spiritual in nature rather than temporal.  We are spiritual creators as well!  We have created a family, eternal relationships of love and friendship, wisdom, and intelligence to name a few things.  Indeed, these types of creations are the most meaningful of all, because they last forever.
I believe that both spiritual and physical (or temporal, to borrow an appropriate term from LDS theology) creation are important.  From a temporal standpoint, there is far greater satisfaction and contentment when we create vice consume.  Picture a ripe tomato you grew in the garden, an egg from one of our chickens, a piano piece that you learned and performed, a Halloween costume you made.  Now mentally compare those with a grocery store tomato and eggs, a recorded performance of the same piece by another pianist, and a store bought costume.  The former are immensely more fulfilling, more satisfying than the latter, right?  Now, you know how much I love to read.  Well, one of my main motivations to write is my faith that, as wonderful as reading is, actually creating my own books that will be read and enjoyed by others will be incredibly more satisfying.  So, why don't people spend more time creating than consuming if it's obviously so much better?
I think there are two reasons.  The first is habit.  As I said earlier, from a very young age our culture trains children to grow up into consumers.  That's a very difficult habit to overcome, particularly so because the world encourages the habit.  Few people actually stop and consider that they would be much happier creating than consuming.  The second reason is laziness.  Creating is harder than consuming.  It's a lot easier to go to the store (or computer) to buy something than it is to make or grow it.  Creating can involve failure, and inevitably requires diligence and patience.  It's not easy, and if there's something else our culture has taught folks is that the path of least resistance is where it's at. 
My goal is to gradually shift from being a consumer to a creator.  Like I mentioned above, it's hard work.  Resisting the habit to surf the internet, watch a show, browse social media, or download a book is tough.  Again, there is a place for consuming.  None of us is completely self-sufficient, and it is good to enjoy uplifting entertainment in moderation.  But I want to shift my ratio to something closer to what I imagine the Savior's was.  I've chosen to use writing as my primary means of creating for now, but I don't think any of us should be one dimensional, and in any case I recognize the importance of devoting plenty of time to spiritual creations as well.