Is this what inventors feel like?

 

There are a lot of words I could use to describe my professional life – computer programmer, solutions provider, architect, developer, business owner, and entrepreneur may just be a few. Those are all ways to describe what I do everyday – build, model, test, try, and take ownership. But there’s a side of me – a growing side, and a side that goes way, way back – that doesn’t fit into those nice neat boxes. It’s the inventor side. The artist side. The side that grasps a big idea and runs with it without a paying client. The side that sees the statue in the lump of marble. That side.

It’s been a long time since I’ve let that side of my life have a hand in steering the course of my life. Sure, I’ve gone on rabbit trails and tried things that I thought might turn out cool, but I’ve never really “seen them through.” A lot of that, frankly, is because I lost a lot of belief in myself. I let go of art… of beauty. Instead, I saw products, services, and processes.

I picture myself sometime as an inventor. Not just of my own ideas – I don’t really have that hankering – but of others. Of seeing what they want to do and GETTING IT, and bringing it to life. Creating. Building. Designing. My artwork may not be pretty to you, but to me, it is. I see colors when I look at #00A7E7 and #008EC4. I see ways to accomplish things you’d never do on your own when I see words like DO, LOOP, WHILE, and the almighty IF statement. I don’t get hung up on computer languages, because they’re really all just a different way of communicating with a machine to get it to do what you are asking of it. I can read many, write a few less, but I get them. And it’s art. Like the matrix, slowly scrolling by… that’s art to me. That is where I invent.

You may not get me. Few people do. I can count the ones that I know that really “get me” on one hand. The ones that understand how code is my paint, and dev environments are my paintbrush. The ones that may laugh, but at the same time know I’m dead serious when I lay hands on a computer. These are tools in the hands of an artist, instruments in the hands of a musician, and stems in the hands of a gardener.

This is my way. This is what brings me joy. And I revel in the fact that it also brings me, in many cases, the resources I need to live my life. I get PAID to do this… well, most of the time, at least. Sometimes in dollars, sometimes in pats on the backs, and sometimes in phrases like “Oh my God, I had no idea we could do that!” But I also get paid in the trying. In the proving. In the building of a concept. You may not care much about my first show and tell, but come along for the ride, hear the passion in me for what I do, and you’ll get it… maybe.

My guess is that there’s something of this in a lot more of us than we think. I used to LOVE art. Making clay bongs and ashtrays (I promise that’s not what they were supposed to look like) and creating my own dream home on a drafting table. And the more and more I think about it, the more I realize I still do. Now it’s in code. Now it’s in things that are measured in 2×4 and 2×6. Now it’s in helping my son find his swing, in anticipating the day I can learn to braid my daughters hair, and in watching a storm roll in with my wife on the deck.

 

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