For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this post narrated by Mike:
I’ve never really liked the word ‘consumer.’
Or client. Or customer for that matter.
But definitely not consumer. I’ve never thought of myself as a consumer. And I certainly don’t think of people who engage with my work as consumers.
Words matter to us visionaries. If we’re after the essence, the life force, inside of all things, then it’s so much more than just the outer shell of a word. It’s what it actually means. It’s why I’m such a stickler for etymology.
The word ‘consume’ – from Latin – means “to take under.” In other words, to extract. To take, eat, demolish, possess.
We only consume that which isn’t alive, right? We consume animals after they’re dead. We consume plants after they’ve been plucked from the ground. We consume TV shows and movies in a passive way.
We consume objects. So, consumption is always objectifying.
The more we see something as alive, the harder it is to consume it. I mean, I can’t entirely consume a person—like Garrett. And it’s really hard to consume the red painting hanging on my wall.
In fact, even when I think I’ve figured that painting out—when I know every inch of it and how it makes me feel—it goes and changes and surprises me. It brings up new emotions and new inspiration. Because it’s alive.
So I can’t consume it.
And consumption isn’t just objectifying to the thing being consumed. Sure, we have to turn things into objects to consume them. But it’s also objectifying to the consumer.
It’s so passive. It denies them of their free will and subjectivity and genius. I don’t want anyone to every idly consume my work. I want them to sit with it. To wrestle with it. To challenge it. To flat out disagree with it. To allow it to inform their lives.
It’s alive. And so are they. We all have a unique perspective—a unique genius. We’re not passive consumers in this world. We’re active geniuses, allowing every moment to be an opportunity to deepen into that genius.
Great artists of past and present have always understood this. All of life is raw material to engage with. To deepen into and explore. A poem might inspire a symphony. An off-hand comment might inspire a short story. A moonlight might inspire a painting.
Life isn’t something to be consumed; it’s something to exist in relationship with. Because a relationship is the place where two subjectivities—two geniuses—meet.
As hard as I might try, I can never fully consume or own or possess Garrett. And I can never fully “grasp” him, like I might try a concept. Some days, I feel like I totally get him, and he acts exactly like I expect and want him to. Other days, I feel like I don’t understand him at all, and he acts totally outside of what I want.
But, either way, it teaches me more about myself. Because relationships always deepen our experience of our genius.
We’re not passive consumers. We’re actors in the play of our lives. And every moment is something deeper to engage with.
We thought about this a lot on our website. You might notice—on our About Page—we refer to those who engage with the work as ‘patrons.’ Not customers (which means “habitual practicers”) and not clients (which means “followers” or “obeyers”)—and certainly not consumers.
Patrons. Because a patron is a defender. A protector. A “bestower of benefice.”
Defending themselves, their genius, their life force. Defending the work itself. Thrashing against the work. Fighting where it doesn’t fit. Making it their own.
There’s something so much more active and empowering to a word like ‘patron’ than the more passive ‘consumer.’
And yet we hear that word ‘consumer’ all the time. It’s become so normalized for companies and businesses to tell us that all we do is consume. That we’re pretty much passive, lifeless things to be advertised to and manipulated.
And, after a while, most of us start to buy into it. I know I did. I spent a lot of time reading the news but feeling powerless to do anything about it. Or devouring (read: consuming) self-help books without taking much action. Or accepting the rules without really evaluating if they’re right for me.
I spent hours scrolling Instagram or Facebook instead of creating toward my vision. I bought course after course, trying to internalize what everyone else was saying. I even passively consumed the messages all around me that I was “too much” and “not enough.”
Like I was just as lifeless as all of the objects around me.
The thing about genius is it’s alive. In fact, it’s life force, itself. Connecting with our genius is literally connecting with our life force. The thing that powers us. Just like a seed that encourages an apple tree to produce apples.
Genius is the invisible force within that unmistakably sparks us to life. Into the one-of-a-kind person that only we can be.
To passively consume is always to suppress our genius. To let life happen to us. Let life pass us by.
But leading from our genius is about agency. It’s about defending our subjectivity because we know we have one—and it’s worthy of defending.
It’s about not just ‘taking’ or ‘obeying’ or ‘following something out of habit.’ But engaging with it. Truly engaging with it. Being in relationship with it. And allowing that relationship to allow us to see more of our genius.
There’s a reason art will save the world. Because art—however we define it—gives life where it wasn’t before. It makes paintings move and music dance and words come alive. It sparks ideas and inspiration and more than its fair share of cultural movements.
Art is simply creation from the place of genius. From the place of pure, active life force, itself. So, of course, it gives life where it wasn’t before.
It’s life, itself. The unmistakable life that only that genius can produce.
We visionaries are more sensitive, more tuned in, to that subtle life force in all things. We can sense more—seeing and hearing and feeling more in our area of genius.
We’re not passive consumers. We’re geniuses. We’re defending and exploring and battling and integrating all that we engage with. And it brings us deeper into our own genius.
You have a genius inside of you that no one else has. It’s what makes you alive. It’s the essence that only you can bring forward into the world. Your own magic. Your own Truth.
You are anything but a consumer or obeyer or habit–follower.
You are a genius.
Questions for Reflection:
*Answer in a journal, in the comments right here, or take it over to the Sacred Branding® Facebook group where we can support one another:
Are you a consumer, or are you a genius?
— Have you ever passively consumed content—like the messages telling you that you’re “too much” and “not enough,” or someone else’s “rules” for success?
— Have you felt like, if you’re in a conversation or a program, you can’t possibly disagree with the content or assert what feels good and right to you? Have you, in fact, minimized what you think and just accepted their messages?
— What if you’re not actually a consumer because you’re not an object (and neither is anything you engage with)? What if you’re a genius? What if your genius is life force, itself? What if connecting with your genius is how you feel more alive in life?