So what do you do with your free time? Read comics probably. Maybe just reading in general. Video games. Television. Movies. Stuff like that right, right? There's a lot of great (and a lot more not-so-great!) material out there to enjoy. Regardless of your preferences. It's great to unwind with your favorite book or show, and escape into their world for a bit.
But is that all you do with your free time?
I spent a good chunk of this weekend beta-testing a new Star Wars game (due out in December, I think). When I first heard about it, I thought it sounded really cool and something that I might be interested in, so I signed up for their email newsletter and to be put in the queue for beta-testers if they needed them. In playing this weekend, it looked like a fantastic game, but it also convinced me not to get it when it comes out. In the first place, my system could barely handle it, so if I really wanted to play, I'd need to shell out a decent amount of money not just for the game itself, but also some system upgrades. New video card, additional RAM, latest OS... Doable, but not exactly cheap.
More significantly, though, it was a very immersive world and I don't have the time to play more than occasionally. Some of my time, of course, goes to work and those types of adult responsibilities, but I also ensure that most of what remains of my free time goes into creating things. Writing, designing, drumming... Some of it is indeed freelance work on top of my day job, but some of it I do just for the sake of creation.
I was talking with a co-worker last week, and she was expressing a lot of dismay over how many people she knew did NOT create anything. They did their jobs by rote, and went home to repetitive and uninspired tasks, some necessary (like laundry) but others not (like watching TV). And some that could be executed with creativity (like cooking) but were often subject to drudgery (warming up frozen dinners). Her theory was that those people who live like that at home don't do a very good job at work either; there's little interest in trying new things or pushing the boundaries at all, and so their work is mundane and trivial. She noted that the people who seem to be doing the best and bringing the most to the company are the ones who create outside of work.
I'm hardly suggesting that everyone should stop consuming material and ONLY create it. I don't know that's even possible in the first place, and in the second place, you'd never get to see anyone else's ideas and you'd be stuck recycling your own material all the time. But what I am suggesting that you make a point to carve out some time in your schedule dedicated to creation. Doesn't matter what you create, or even what venue you choose. It doesn't matter if anyone is ever even aware of it. If you can't write, draw. If you can't draw, cook. If you can't cook, sing. If you can't sing, dance.
The point is NOT to create something that others can appreciate. The point is NOT to create something that only you think is great. The point is to create something for the sake of creating something. A phenomenally horrid school system here in the States has forced a lot of people's creative muscles to atrophy, but just like physical exercise, practicing being creative results in getting better at it. Without that creativity, you're really not much more than a zombie trudging through the motions of life.
You want to live a better life? Become more active to get your body moving, and then become more creative to get your brain moving.