Having it bottled and sold

Every once in a while I’m reminded that the things I do for work don’t belong to me. I’m reminded that the words I write, the code I struggle through, the designs I conjure, all belong to the company.

I go in early because I believe the work I do matters; I push through 10 hours a day because there is always more to do; I dream about my projects; I pour myself into the work. So when someone casually reminds me that it’s not mine, that someone else has a legal claim to it all, well, that sucks. It makes me want to hold back.

I don’t resent anyone for these circumstances. After all I am paid for what I do, and most days I don’t ever have to think about who it all belongs to. But you don’t know that you’re locked in a room until you try to open the door. The less you try to open the door, the easier it is to forget it is locked.

When I first read “The Crucible” I didn’t understand when John Proctor says, “I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” The concept of ownership isn’t about things, but rather about ourselves. It’s about pouring ourselves into vessels of this world, only to have them bottled and sold. There are some things that we believe can always be ours, like our names and our memories, but even those can be taken from us or tarnished beyond redemption.

As children we need little guidance to learn that art is an expression of ourselves, and we can be confident calling it “mine” without question, no matter whose markers or crayons we use. But we soon learn to trade our self-expression because we learn it’s how our world operates; admirers turn into “clients” and art turns into “service” which isn’t always a bad thing. It just cuts into too much of the good stuff.

Driving home today I knew I had to come home and write this because these words are mine and, some days, you just need to pour yourself into something that is fully yours. I don’t want to hold onto these word, like Gollum does the Ring, nor do I want to have it ripped from me, as John Proctor did his name. I just want to be able to go to bed and feel good about the day.

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